The Russians are disappearing from Kherson. Reports from the front about a possible evacuation | World news

The Russians are disappearing from Kherson. Reports from the front about a possible evacuation | World news

Surprising reports from Chersonia have been pouring in since Thursday morning. They are traditionally unclear, so it is not yet possible to say with certainty what is going on. After three weeks of relative stabilization and even reports from Ukrainians about strengthening Russian defense, a sudden withdrawal of the Russians would be surprising. Surprise, however, is an indispensable element of a successful retreat.

Kherson abandoned or not

The news about the disappearance of the Russian flag from the flagpole on the central administration building in the center of Kherson echoes the most widely. She had flown there since the city was seized in March. Its disappearance is therefore symbolic. However, it is not known what happened. The Russians announced in mid-October that they would start evacuating their civilian administration from the Kherson region. Perhaps the flag’s disappearance signifies its end. However, a recording made by a Russian appeared on the web, which showed that Russian flags were fluttering at many other offices in the city. The situation is therefore not clear.

In addition, Ukrainian civilians have been recording videos since Thursday morning showing abandoned Russian military posts on the roads in the city. So far, there are reports of at least four, mostly in the northwest of the city, from which soldiers and Russian flags have disappeared. However, there is no information that would allow to assess the scale of this phenomenon and whether the posts were left only for a moment during, for example, the rotation of the cast.

The explanation for these events can be twofold. First: the Russians are withdrawing from the right bank of the Dnieper. There are many indications that they have such an intention. The aforementioned evacuation of the civil administration, the looting of the city and the surrounding area, the statements of the general commanding the forces in Ukraine made in mid-October about the possibility of making “difficult decisions” on the issue of Kherson, and recently the construction of fortifications on the other side of the river. In addition, Ukrainians claim that in recent weeks the Russians have replaced the experienced professional units defending the Kherson region for months with newly mobilized ones. As if they wanted to get valuable people out of the snare and clog the resulting holes with so-called cannon fodder. During the retreat, those who are left are exposed to the heaviest losses. The withdrawal itself must also be carried out in secret and surprise the opponent so that he does not attack the weakened defense lines too early. Ideally, the opponent should wake up one day and be surprised to find that the enemy’s trenches are empty and the flags have disappeared from the cities behind them.

Video showing that Russian flags are still present in many other Kherson offices

However, it would be difficult to imagine that the Ukrainians would oversleep this way. Not with their good and extensive diagnosis. Unless they would deliberately let the Russians escape, being content with the losses they had suffered so far and with the great political success that would be the liberation of Kherson. Perhaps this is better than long and fierce battles that would mean the death of thousands of civilians and soldiers and the destruction of the city.

The second explanation for the disappearance of the Russians from the city of Kherson itself is that they are not retreating, but are barricading. Only not in the city itself, but in its vicinity. The situation of Russians in the oblast has been difficult for months, but nevertheless they hold on. The Ukrainians have not made significant progress for almost a month, although they still call for an “information silence.” However, it is already clear that this is not voluntary censorship, but simply a lack of Ukrainian success. They could survive the winter, which may mean shortening them in some places, giving the Ukrainians a hard-to-maintain area, dragging whoever they can to the trenches, and transporting officials and civilians who constitute an unnecessary burden across the river.

The course of the front line in the Chersoń area has not changed significantly since the beginning of October

The course of the front line in the Chersoń area has not changed significantly since the beginning of October Photo

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No breakdown of Ukrainians and Russians

The situation in the Kherson region will clear up within a few days. There have already been many reports of the Russians withdrawing, so one must be approached with caution when it comes to withdrawing them. On the other hand, the situation at the other end of the front, in the Kremienna-Swatow region in eastern Ukraine, became quite clear. For the last week, heavy fights have been going on there. The Ukrainians were evidently trying to break through the prepared Russian defensive positions between these places and in their vicinity. Unfortunately, there was no success. During the first few days, there were reports of Ukrainians moving forward and taking over several towns and important hills.

The week of fighting did not bring significant changes to the course of the front in the Swatów areaThe week of fighting did not bring significant changes to the course of the front in the Swatów area Photo

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The defense of the Russians, however, was to be fierce, despite reports of desertions among the mobilized, heavy losses suffered by their troops and arbitrary withdrawal from the fighting area. More reports of Russian counterattacks are available Monday-Tuesday. In many places so strong that they rejected the Ukrainians. The effect of the fighting week is that the front line has not shifted significantly. The Russian defense has not been broken. On the other hand, there were voices from the Ukrainians that they lack the strength and means to continue their offensives in Kherson and in the east. Additionally, it is supposed to disturb weathermore specifically rainswhich, combined with heavy vehicles, began to turn unpaved roads into swamps.

For their part, the Russians launched the first blow that was stronger in months. Over the past week, intense fighting has been going on at the border between the fronts in Donbas and Zaporizhia. Specifically, in the area of ​​the village of Pawliwka, which the Russians occupied first in the springbut it was recaptured by the Ukrainians in the summer as a result of a small local offensive.

The described Pawliwka is at the bottom of the map in the middle.  The Donetsk region begins further northThe described Pawliwka is at the bottom of the map in the middle. The Donetsk region begins further north Photo

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According to the Ukrainians, the Russian army could go on the offensive there thanks to the reinforcement of professional troops withdrawn from the Kherson region in October. In the first days, the Russians were to achieve partial success and take part of the town. After Ukrainian reinforcements were brought into this previously calm section of the front, the situation stabilized. The Russians also referred to the “bad weather” justification and, according to reports on the Russian Telegram, further attempts at the attack were suspended.

Destruction of a Russian tank on the outskirts of Pavlivka. Next to the previously abandoned BTR-82. Better without sound

There was one quite clear change in Donbas. Russian attacks in the Bakhmut region have weakened. There are no more reports from Ukrainians for at least a few a day. The fighting is still going on, but on a smaller scale. There are no reports of any progress by the Russians since the end of last week. There have been a number of attacks in the area invariably Donetsk and the Ukrainian-owned town of Avdiivka. The Ukrainians turned it and its vicinity into a fortress that the Russians have not been able to chew since the beginning of the war. Now they have failed to do so either. Several attacks quickly got stuck in the face of Ukrainian fortifications.

Shooting down of a Russian plane in the Bakhmut region. You can also see what the battlefield looks like after many weeks of artillery fire

Dulling optimism

The events of last week show that Ukrainians may have problems with further successful offensives. August and October were a streak of success for them, but now it has slowed down. The front has been standing in the Chersoń area for several weeks, although the Ukrainians are systematically attacking the Russians with artillery and they have attempted limited attacks twice. Last week also did not bring good news from the other main direction, i.e. the border of Kharkiv and Luhansk Oblasts. Perhaps the Russians suffer significant losses on these two sections of the front, which will one day translate into Ukrainian success. However, this is an optimistic variant. It is also possible, however, that the losses are mainly suffered by the mobilized pushed to the front lines, on which the Ukrainians use their forces. This may mean an unfavorable replacement for the Ukrainian army, which has limited ammunition and equipment resources.

Combined with worse weather, this could mean facing the front for weeks or even months. This is a pessimistic variant, as the Russians are counting on such a scenario. Exhausted Ukraine, unable to liberate its territory, exhausted West, which is running out of stocks of weapons and ammunition, and its citizens are fed up with Ukraine’s economic problems. Russia comes out on this, offering a ceasefire and a freezing of the conflict. The West breathes a sigh of relief, forces Kyiv to such conditions, disenchanted Ukrainian citizens and the military pounce on politicians, and Ukraine plunges into chaos. Russia gains time to lick its wounds and complete the war in a few years.

Vladimir Putin and his entourage can count on something like that. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will. The key will be to provide Ukraine with stable support for as long as necessary so that it can effectively defend its country. As they have been doing since February, when hardly anyone gave them a chance to survive.

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