Ukraine war: Russians retreat from Kherson in latest major setback

Kherson, Ukraine - The Russian military evacuation from the Ukrainian city of Kherson – the only regional capital fully occupied by Russian forces since the start of this year's invasion – is complete, according to the Russia's Defense Ministry.

Ukrainian soldiers celebrate the recapture of Kherson after Russian forces retreat from the city.
Ukrainian soldiers celebrate the recapture of Kherson after Russian forces retreat from the city.  © via REUTERS

Referring to it as a regrouping operation, ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said all units, along with hardware and equipment, had safely made it across the Dnipro River to the eastern bank. No hardware was left behind, he said.

After an initial surge when the invasion started in February, Russia has faced a series of setbacks and has been forced to cede wide tracts of land in the face of a Ukrainian offensive that is armed with Western weaponry. In several cases earlier this year, Russian forces fled so fast that they abandoned tanks, artillery, and other weapons.

Still, the Kremlin continues to view Kherson province as a part of Russia, after a move earlier this year to annex the province, along with three others.

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"This is a constituent entity of Russia. The status of this
territory is fixed and defined by law. There cannot be any
changes," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency.

Russia bombs Mykolaiv after retreat

The ruins of a residential building in Mykolaiv after a Russian missile strike.
The ruins of a residential building in Mykolaiv after a Russian missile strike.  © REUTERS

Russia announced the long-anticipated withdrawal from Kherson on Wednesday, as it became impossible to adequately supply its troops in the city after Ukrainian forces bombed most bridges. Since the announcement, Ukrainian forces have reported large territorial gains in the region.

Asked if the retreat from Kherson could be seen as a defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Peskov said no.

However, the Kremlin also said it saw no way for peace talks with Ukraine, despite the week's events. Peskov said Russia is not ruling them out, but claimed he saw no interest from the Ukrainian side in such talks at the moment.

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"Kyiv does not want negotiations. The special military operation continues," Peskov said.

Highlighting that sentiment, Russian rocket attacks left a residential building destroyed in the city of Mykolaiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday. He called it a "cynical answer by a terrorist state" to recent Ukrainian battlefield gains.

Mykolaiv province governor Vitalii Kim posted on Telegram that there were two dead and two injured in the attack on a five-storey building.

Cover photo: via REUTERS

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