Russian division over withdrawal from Kherson, the biggest setback or necessity?

After Russia announced the withdrawal of its forces from Kherson city, southern UkraineA, pro-Russian media described this withdrawal as the biggest setback since the start of the war that began in the lands of the western neighbor last February.

A report by the newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” stated that there is a division within Russia over the withdrawal from Kherson, between it being the biggest setback or the necessity.

The withdrawal from Kherson would bolster Ukraine and its Western backers before winter, when the intensity of the fighting is expected to subside.

The abrupt withdrawal is also a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in September declared Kherson and three other regions part of Russia, announced a partial mobilization in September and sent tens of thousands of troops directly to the battlefields to prop up Russia’s faltering defense lines.

Ukrainian forces near Kherson (archive - AFP)

Ukrainian forces near Kherson (archive – AFP)

Western officials said Russia had been preparing to withdraw from Kherson for weeks to avoid the chaos of its withdrawal from the northeast in September, as Russian forces abandoned large quantities of armored vehicles, weapons systems and ammunition.

It is reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the Russian forces to withdraw to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River during a meeting with the Russian commander in Ukraine General Sergei Surovkin.

In turn, General Surovkin said that the troops will leave in the coming days and take up positions on a new defensive line that has been drawn up along the eastern bank of the river.

In addition, Kherson residents said in interviews that the Russian army has disappeared from the city in recent days.

Russian forces in Kherson (AP)

Russian forces in Kherson (AP)

strong hit

It is noteworthy that Moscow’s loss of Kherson, which is the first major Ukrainian city to fall into its hands since the outbreak of the conflict on February 24, will constitute a strong blow to it and the prestige of its army.

Especially since the city is one of the four regions that the Kremlin announced in late September (2022) its annexation.

Its geographical location also bears special importance, as the region is located on the borders of the Dnepropetrovsk and Nikolaev regions, and it has a land border with Crimea in the south, while overlooking the Black Sea in the southwest, and in the southeast by the Sea of ​​Azov.

It is noteworthy that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has entered its ninth month, amid a continuation of the Ukrainian counter-offensive launched last month in the south and east, in order to drive the Russians out of the towns they had taken over.

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