The Russian Defense Ministry has announced a withdrawal of troops from the city of Kherson amid a threat from Ukrainian troops

Russia has decided to withdraw its troops from the right bank of the Dnieper River, including the regional capital of Kherson. The Defense Ministry explained that it wants to avoid unnecessary losses among its forces and spare the lives of civilians.

While admitting that the decision is not an easy one, the commanders see little sense in keeping the troops on the right bank, the chief of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, General Army General Sergey Surovikin, told Defense Minister Sergey Schoigu on Wednesday. The general pointed to continued Ukrainian attacks on the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam on the Dnieper River, arguing that it could leave the Russian troops in Kherson cut off from the rest of the force with no way to escape.

A pullout would help save lives of the Russian soldiers and keep the combat effectiveness of the force grouping in the area, Surovikin said.

This is a very difficult decision. Yet, we would be able to preserve the most important thing: lives of our soldiers.

“Start the pullback of forces,” Shoigu told Surovikin in a video released by media outlets. The minister ordered the general to organize secure relocation for both soldiers and civilians.

Over the past weeks, the local authorities have launched an effort to bring as many civilians as possible to the left bank of Dnieper, citing a threat posed by Ukrainian forces located on the opposite side. Over 150,000 people had been moved out of the city as of today, according to Sorovikin.

Russia incorporated Kherson Region last month, after residents voted in a referendum to break away from Ukraine and seek accession to Russia. Kiev rejected the vote as a “sham” and pledged to use military force to recapture all territories it considers to be under its sovereignty.

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