On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from the Ukrainian region of Kherson, west of the Dnipro River, including the city of Kherson.
Comes after Moscow Partial retraction order from the region on Wednesday, in one of the Kremlin’s biggest military setbacks since the war began.
In the direction of Kherson, the transfer of Russian military units to the left bank of the Dnieper was completed at 0500 [Moscow time] The ministry said on its official channel a telegram, “This morning.
“Not a single piece of military equipment or weapons was left on the right bank,” the statement said, referring to the western side of the river. “All Russian soldiers moved to the left bank of the Dnieper” – the Russian spelling of the river.
A local Ukrainian official in the region told CNN on Friday that he could not “confirm or deny” whether Russian forces had withdrawn from Kherson.
“We maintain a pattern of ‘information silence’,” said Yury Sobolevsky, First Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council of Ukraine. “We do not comment on the Ukrainian military movement or the hostile military movement.”
On Friday, photos and videos on social media also showed the destruction of the Antonevsky Bridge, the main pass over the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.
Alexander Kots, a correspondent for the pro-government Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, posted a video on his Telegram channel standing at the crossing, showing the entire middle part of the bridge destroyed.
“Behind me are the two collapsed stretches of the bridge (the bridge),” Coates said. “It is likely that it was detonated during the withdrawal of the Russian group of troops from the right bank to the left” or the west bank to the east bank.
An image circulated on social media on Friday showed a Ukrainian flag in downtown Kherson, although there was no indication that the Ukrainian army was still in that city.
Sobolevsky, the Ukrainian official, also refused to confirm the authenticity of social media photos of the Ukrainian flag in downtown Kherson.
“I can’t confirm that this is a real photo,” he said. But I can say that it is Svobody Square (Freedom Square), where all the marches against the occupation took place. The resistance movement has been present in Kherson all the time since the start of the occupation. People have shown their patriotic attitude through graffiti, ribbons, national flags, etc.”
Ukrainian residents in a town on the western outskirts of Kherson raised the Ukrainian flag and tore down Russian propaganda panels, according to social media videos geolocated by CNN.
The videos are from the town of Belozerka, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of Kherson.
One of the videos shows a Ukrainian flag flying over a World War II memorial. Another clip shows residents tearing up a propaganda banner with a little girl holding the Russian flag, with the caption: “Russia is here forever.”
Kyiv officials have warned that the withdrawal of Russian forces could turn the regional capital Kherson into a city “City of Death” on my way.
An official in southern Ukraine warned residents on Friday to be careful not to return quickly to newly liberated lands due to the threat of mines.
“There are a lot of mines in the liberated territories and settlements,” Vitaly Kim, head of the military administration of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram. “Don’t go there without a reason. There are victims.”
Kherson was one of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Russia in September.
A Kremlin spokesperson insisted on Friday that the region remains part of Russia, despite the stated intention of a partial withdrawal.
“This is a topic for the Russian Federation,” said Dmitry Peskov during a regular briefing with journalists. “It has been legally defined and defined. There can be no changes here.”
Russia still controls a large part of the Kherson region – the area east of the Dnipro River.
When asked directly if Russia’s withdrawal was “humiliating” for President Vladimir Putin, Peskov answered: “No.”