The Russian military said on Friday that it had finished withdrawing its forces from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital that Vladimir Putin’s invading army has managed to capture since hislate February. The military said there was “not a single piece of military equipment left” on the west bank of the Dnipro River, which crosses the wider Kherson region, with the city of the same name on its west bank.
In a statement, military commanders in Moscow said that “all Russian soldiers crossed the river without suffering” losses in personnel, weapons, military equipment and materials. ” The announcement came just two days after the Russian defense chiefand his commander-in-chief in Ukraine told him in a TV interview that it was “not easy” to make a phone call, but that he would “save our army’s life.”
There were no immediate messages from Ukrainian or US military confirming the Russian statement, but a message posted on a Twitter account identified as a message from Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksij Goncharenko said the country’s forces were “already in Kherson” on Friday morning.
Many official and civil sources in Ukraine also informed CBS News that the country’s forces had entered the city of Kherson and that the national flag had been raised in front of the regional administration building. Ukrainian civilians claimed on social media that some Russian soldiers had changed into civilian clothes and others, and that Ukrainian troops were entering cautiously, paying attention to mines and booby traps.
Ukrainian and US officials have been skeptical of the Russian withdrawal announcement since it was announced on Wednesday, suggesting that it could be a trap luring Ukrainian forces eastward towards the fortified Russian positions on the eastern bank of the Dnieper.
From Thursday evening in Ukraine, US officials told CBS News that they saw no signs of Russian troops moving in significant numbers across the river. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said this was not necessarily seen as evidence that the recall announcement was a ruse, only that it would likely take time.
Although there was no official confirmation of the withdrawal status of the Russians from Ukrainian commanders, unverified videos posted on the Internet showed what the Russian soldiers looked like as they crossed the pontoon bridge across the Dnieper on foot. The bridge was right next to the larger Antonivskiy Bridge which was completely useless in many movies and a large part was destroyed.
While it was not immediately clear what caused the road bridge to collapse, BBC news reported that a key part of the infrastructure was “gradually damaged by Ukrainian missiles” during the months-long Russian occupation of the city of Kherson and much of the surrounding region.
Over the past few months, Russian invasion forces have suffered from setbacks as they withdrew from towns and villages west of Kherson and from areas north of the region amid a Ukrainian counter-offensive backed by a massive influx of weapons from the West.
While Ukraine’s progress has pushed the Russians back quickly, the U.S. has been reluctant to comply with the country’s requests for even more advanced weapons systems, and many analysts expect the sharp shift in the frontline in the past few months to slow down with the advent of winter and Russia is digging into its positions. which she occupied for years further in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers, just a few kilometers from enemy lines, used drones supplied by the West to perfect Russian positions. But the Russians also see the Ukrainians coming.
Russia is relatively– showed that it is relying on long-range missile and drone att*cks to bypass civilian areas to lower Ukraine’s morale.
The strikes blocked the supply of electricity and water to millions of Ukrainians, and as reported by CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay, the retreating Russian forces also left a deadly trail of mines and mines.
Even if and when Ukraine confirms that Russian forces have withdrawn from Kherson, the Russian threat, with its massive firepower, will still be stuck in the trenches on the other side of the river. And despite increasing calls for peace talks, there is little evidence of a war that has raged for over eight months andcomes to an end.
So far, US officials estimate that the war claimed the lives of approximately 40,000 Ukrainian civilians, and approximately 100,000 soldiers were killed or injured. Russian forces are believed to have suffered a similar number of casualties.
CBS News producer Erin Lyall contributed to this report.
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