Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered his troops to withdraw from the occupied city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine and the west bank of the Dnipro River in the face of Ukrainian attacks near it, the Reuters news agency reported.
In a televised speech, General Sergey Surovikin recommended that Shoigu withdraw Russian troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River, citing logistical difficulties. Russian troops will instead head to the river’s right bank, with many analysts believing that this will lead to the eventual surrender of the city of Kherson, with Ukraine closing into the city in its southern counter-offensive.
“Kherson cannot be fully supplied and function. Russia did everything possible to ensure the evacuation of the inhabitants of Kherson,” Surovikin told Shoigu. “The decision to defend on the left bank of the Dnipro is not easy, at the same time we will save the lives of our military."
On Wednesday afternoon, it was reported that the Darivka and Tiahynka bridges on the roads out of Kherson were blown up. Serhii Khlan, a Kherson Regional Council deputy, told UKRInform that the retreating Russian soldiers also blew up the bridges at the exit from Snihurivka towards Kherson across the canal, in Novokairy, and in Mylove.
Khlan believes that in order to secure the safe retreat of their troops from the front, the Russian military had strengthened its grouping in the villages of Kozatske and Vesele, and the nearby Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
"That is, we can say that under the pressure of our Armed Forces, the occupiers are preparing and doing everything possible so that it does not look like a total collapse of the front, but rather a planned retreat from the front line," Khlan said.
Overnight, Ukrainian and Russian forces also clashed over Snihurivka, a town about 30 miles north of Kherson, reports the Associated Press.
Death of Russian-occupation leader
Earlier in the day, the Deputy-Head of the Russian-installed local government, Kirill Stremousov, was killed in a car crash.
One of Russia's most prominent officials in Ukraine had gone from online blogger and minor local politician to one of the faces of the Russian occupation, often pumping out pro-Moscow statements and narratives.
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Ukrainians viewed him as a traitor and collaborator. The death has deepened the sense of a Russian power implosion in the occupation of Kherson, as Ukrainian forces continue their advance on the city.
The Russian far-right nationalist figure and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose daughter was killed earlier this year in a car bomb, called Stremousov a true hero, adding "Kherson must be defended at all costs. Kherson is what keeps Russia in power today."