Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Russias grip on Kherson slips as civilians flee Ukraine counteroffensive

Russias grip on Kherson slips as civilians flee Ukraine counteroffensive


Russias grip on Kherson slips as civilians flee Ukraine counteroffensive

Russia's grip on the city of Kherson appeared increasingly fragile after a weekend in which all civilians were ordered to evacuate immediately in the face of the advancing Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The occupied city's Russian administration told residents to take "documents, money, valuables and clothes" due to "the tense situation on the front" and reported on Sunday that there had been "a sharp increase" in the number of civilians trying to flee.

The US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War said the urgent call indicated that the occupiers "do not expect a rapid Russian or civilian return" to the city, and appeared to be trying to depopulate it to damage its "long-term social and economic viability".

Ukraine's military added that Russia had evacuated veteran forces from around Kherson, the only city on the west bank of the Dnipro River captured by the invaders since the start of the war more than seven months ago.

Vladyslav Nazarov, a spokesperson from Ukraine's operational command south, said in an update that Russian officers were "being moved to the left bank of the Dnipro River, leaving the newly mobilised units on the right", referring to the west bank where the city is situated.

Russia's position in Kherson has looked vulnerable for weeks, but at one point the Kremlin appeared keen to fight for the city, the only provincial capital its forces have captured in the war, and stationed 20,000 troops in and around it.

But Ukrainian successes on the northern section of the frontline in September, including the recapture of Izium, appear to have persuaded the Russians that they can no longer maintain forces west of the Dnipro because their position is too stretched overall.

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