Russia’s military said on Friday it had completed its withdrawal from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital that Vladimir Putin’s invading army was able to capture.at the end of February. According to the military, “not a single piece of military equipment remains” on the west bank of the Dnieper River, which bisects the vast Kherson region, on which the city of the same name is located.
Military commanders in Moscow said in a statement that all Russian servicemen crossed the river “without loss of personnel, weapons, military equipment or material”. This statement was made by the Russian Defense Chief just two days laterThe top commander in Ukraine told him in a televised interview that the call was “not easy” but “will save the lives of our army.”
Ukrainian and U.S. military officials have not released any statements confirming Russia’s claims, but Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko told CBS News’ Chris Liveside that our country’s troops were in Kherson Friday morning. He previously tweeted that Ukrainian troops were “already in Kherson.”
Photos of the Ukrainian flag flying in front of the regional administration building quickly appeared on social media. The video shows civilians hugging Ukrainian soldiers and helping to hang Ukrainian flags on other buildings, including the city’s police headquarters.
Ukrainian civilians were reported on social media that some Russian soldiers dressed in plainclothes and remained, and that Ukrainian soldiers were cautiously infiltrating, wary of landmines and booby traps.
Ukrainian and U.S. officials have been skeptical of the Russian troop withdrawal announcement since its release on Wednesday, saying it would be a trap to draw Ukrainian troops eastward toward Russian positions entrenched on the east bank of the Dnieper River.
U.S. officials in Ukraine told CBS News late Thursday that they had seen no sign of Russian troops moving across the river in large numbers. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said that doesn’t necessarily prove the withdrawal announcement is a hoax, just that it will take time.
There has been no official confirmation from Ukrainian commanders that the Russians have pulled out, but an unverified video posted online shows Russian troops crossing the Dnieper on foot on a pontoon bridge. This bridge was located right next to the large Antonivskyi bridge, and according to many videos, it is completely unusable and a large part is damaged.
It’s not clear what caused the road bridge to collapse, but BBC News reports that the key piece of infrastructure was “slowly damaged by Ukrainian missiles” during Russia’s months-long occupation of Kherson and much of the surrounding area.
Russia’s aggressors have been retreating to towns and villages west of Kherson and the region’s north for the past several months amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive backed by a massive influx of Western weapons.
While Ukraine’s advance has quickly pushed back the Russians, the United States has refused to comply with requests for even more advanced weapons systems, and many analysts expect the rapid transition of the past two months to slow down in the winter. Russia is strengthening its position in eastern Ukraine, which it has held for many years.
Ukrainian troops used Western-supplied drones to capture Russian positions within a few miles of enemy lines. But Russians also see Ukrainians coming.
Russia is relative– he showed that Ukraine relies on long-range missiles and drone strikes to hit civilian areas.
Millions of Ukrainians have lost power and water since the strike, and CBS News’ Chris Livesey reports that retreating Russian forces have also left a trail of deadly landmines and bubitran in their wake.
Even if Ukraine confirms the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson, the Russian threat will remain across the river with indiscriminate firepower. Despite growing calls for peace talks, more than eight months of war have little to offer.is about to end.
Currently, US officials estimate that about 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the war, while about 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded. Russian armed forces are also believed to have suffered a similar number of casualties.
CBS News producer Erin Lyle contributed to this report.