A major development.. Russia orders the withdrawal of its forces from the West Bank in the Kherson region amid Ukrainian progress

(CNN) — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from the western bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, according to Russian state media.

His order comes at a time when Ukrainian forces are advancing towards the city of Kherson from two directions. The Russian withdrawal would be the most significant military development since Ukrainian forces overran the northern Kharkiv region in September. Kherson is the first major Ukrainian city occupied by Russia since the invasion in February.

It is also the only regional capital Russia has captured since the invasion in February.

The order to withdraw Russian troops to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River came during a meeting in Moscow between Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovkin.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Surovkin said that “the city of Kherson and neighboring settlements in the current conditions cannot be fully supplied and operational.”

“Ukrainian armed forces are attacking schools, hospitals and civilians in Kherson, who are being evacuated to the other side of the Dnipro River,” Surovkin claimed.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation have successfully resisted attempts to attack the Ukrainian armed forces in the direction of Kherson,” said Sorovikin, who warned that difficult choices would be required when he was appointed commander-in-chief of the operation.

He claimed that “from August to October, the Ukrainian armed forces lost more than 9,500 people in Kherson,” a figure he said was seven to eight times greater than Russian losses.

It is impossible to independently verify Sorovikin’s claim.

The defense of the occupied territories on the western bank of Kherson became increasingly difficult for the Russians, as Ukrainian forces disrupted bridges across the Dnipro River and attacked Russian supply lines. Recently, the Ukrainian army made progress on two fronts towards the city of Kherson. In response, Russian forces began to fortify their positions on the opposite bank of the river.

Kherson was one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia announced their annexation in September. Once the withdrawal was completed, several thousand square kilometers of that annexed area would have surrendered.

Kherson is known as the gateway to Crimea, which it annexed from Russia in 2014, and is located at the mouth of the Dnipro River to the Black Sea.

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