Russia on Wednesday ordered its troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson and its surroundings in southern Ukraine, surrendering the major regional capital as it emptied the east bank of the Dnieper River in the latest major setback for President Vladimir Putin's war. Redeployed forces. Ukrainian officials have said that any Russian withdrawal may be part of a trap. The Ukrainians also said it was likely to take several more days for their troops to enter the city and that they could still potentially face heavy fighting with the Russians, who have been placed in more advantageous positions.
There was no hiding the huge political significance of Moscow leaving the region's capital that Putin had declared a few weeks ago to be amalgamated and absorbed into Russia.
Shoigu issued a retreat order early last month during a televised meeting with Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russia's war in Ukraine. He was concerned about the difficulty of maintaining supply routes to troops in the Kherson city area and citing bridges and ferry crossings that Ukrainians have repeatedly targeted.
Russian troops will still have a presence in the Kherson province, or oblast, which provides a much-coveted "land bridge" between mainland Russia and Crimea, the peninsula Russia invaded and illegally occupied in 2014.
Kherson was the only Ukrainian territorial capital that Russia had captured since the February 24 invasion. Its surrender ended Russian dreams of connecting Crimea to the major Ukrainian port of Odesa, a one-storied city known as the "Pearl of the City." Called "Black."
Russian-backed separatists controlled the regional capitals of Luhansk and Donetsk before the invasion. Putin announced the annexation of those territories and Zaporizhzhya and Kherson in violation of international law.
Rumors of Russian withdrawal from the city of Kherson had been circulating for weeks, but Ukraine's progress
It was slow and grinding.
The blast happened again after two weeks of silence.
Throughout the day, Ukraine escalated the Russian position in the city with US-supplied M777 howitzers. A Ukrainian military official in the area said Russian troops laid mines and blew up bridges as they retreated, slowing any Ukrainian advance. There were also reports that Russian flags were lowered from administrative buildings in the city of Kherson.
The Ukrainian military is expected to move slowly as Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said they fear the Russian military's withdrawal could be coercion, designed to trap them in ambush.