Russia announces withdrawal from Kherson: further embarrassment for Putin


OK: The Russian leadership has announced the withdrawal of its armed forces from the city of Cherson. For Vladimir Putin, this is another humiliating defeat.

In fact, the retreat was long overdue. The Russian army finds itself in a disastrous situation in the Kherson province of Ukraine – partially trapped. Thousands of Russian troops should be stabilized on the front line in the south. Their backs were to the Dnieper, and the supply bridges across the river were repeatedly and successfully attacked by Ukrainian artillery. There is no way out and no possibility of quick reinforcement.

Russian generals have been demanding permission for weeks to retreat to the east bank of the Dnieper to establish a new line of defense there, according to Western security services. But what was considered militarily sensible was rejected by the Kremlin for political reasons. Western intelligence circles reported weeks ago that Vladimir Putin is said to have personally commanded the defense of the city of Cherson. But now it seems the Russian president’s house of cards has collapsed.

Russia intends to withdraw from all occupied territories west of the Dnieper, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday. Of course, this could be a strategy of war on Putin’s part. But the loss of Russian war propaganda is already catastrophic. The declaration alone is tantamount to an oath of revelation: one of the largest cities conquered since February cannot be held militarily.

It threatens the Kremlin chief with further military humiliation by Ukraine’s armed forces. Pressure is mounting on Putin.

A symbolic slap in the face of the Russian president

After all, it is about Kherson. It was the only regional capital that the Russian army has managed to capture since the start of Putin’s invasion order. A strategically important city that supplies water to Russian-occupied Crimea via the North Crimean Canal. There were protests against the occupiers, during which Russian soldiers opened fire on the protesters. But despite the crackdown, peace did not return to the occupied parts of Cherson.

Ukrainian underground fighters were active behind enemy lines. There have been repeated kidnappings, assassinations and bombings of members of the Russian-appointed administration. Most recently, Deputy Chief Executive Kirill Stremousov died, allegedly in a traffic accident, according to Russian occupation authorities. On the military side as well, the Battle of Cherson City was declared a battle that could decide the battle on either side’s campaign.

Russian troops fired mortars into the Kherson region.
Russian troops fired mortars into the Kherson region. (Source: IMAGO/Ivan Rodionov)

The withdrawal of the Russian army, if true, would initially be a largely symbolic defeat that was not really intended at all. Only at the end of September did Russian President Kherson annex the entire Ukrainian territory. One can say from a Russian perspective: Putin is withdrawing Russian troops from Russia. An insult.

According to the Russian army, Cherson should actually be defended to the last man. The population was evacuated so that, according to Putin, they could be taken out of the war zone. Houses were occupied, defensive lines were erected. Now the sudden insight? Skepticism is appropriate.

Because one thing is certain: very little information is leaking from Cherson and the fog of war there is impenetrable. The withdrawal announcement may have been a war tactic intended to delay the invasion of Ukraine. Or Russia could persuade Ukraine to launch a swift attack. All of this is possible, but unlikely.

The Ukrainian government feels trapped

Ukraine is already very suspicious of announcements from Moscow. It is unclear whether Ukrainian forces will be able to retake more than 4,000 square kilometers of territory in the next few days. Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak warned that it was too early to talk about the “liberation of Kherson.” “We don’t see any Russian troop movements confirming the statement of the Russian military leadership,” Podoliak told T-Online. The situation on the ground will show if Russian troops are actually withdrawing or if this is just a trap to push Ukrainian forces to safety before a tough urban battle begins.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here