Moscow: On Tuesday, Russia pulled back troops and civilian administrators from towns on the bank of the Dnipro River opposite Kherson, signs that Russia might be withdrawing further after surrendering its biggest Ukrainian prize last week.
Moscow followed its losses in the war zone with apparent long-range strikes on the capital Kyiv, where air raid sirens blared, two blasts were heard, and columns of smoke could be seen rising from the ground. Moscow had said last week it was pulling its troops across the wide Dnipro to positions that were easier to defend on the opposite bank, leaving the only regional capital captured since its invasion in February.
But video images filmed in the town of Oleshky, across a collapsed bridge from Kherson, seemed to show Russian troops had left bunkers there too. Further east, Russian-installed administrators said they were pulling out civil servants from Nova Kakhovka on the riverbank next to a huge, strategic dam. Natalya Humenyuk, a Ukrainian military spokesperson, said Moscow appeared to be repositioning its artillery 15-20 km (10-15 miles) further from the river, to protect its guns from Ukrainian counterstrikes. “There is a certain activity of enemy troops on the left bank of the Dnipro in terms of moving 15-20 km away from the bank,” she said. Russia had artillery still capable of striking Kherson from those new positions, but “we also have something to answer with”, she said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky told world leaders there would be no ease up in Ukraine’s military campaign to drive Russian soldiers out of his country.
“We will not allow Russia to wait it out, build up its forces, and then start a new series of terror and global destabilization,” he said in an address by video link to a summit of the G20 big economies in Indonesia.
“I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped.”
Ukrainian troops mobbed by joyous residents swept into Kherson in recent days to claim the biggest prize of the war so far, a city that Russian President Vladimir Putin had proclaimed six weeks ago would be Russian forever.