Moscow: Russia has ordered the withdrawal of troops from the crucial city of Kherson, which happens to be the only city Russia was able to capture since February’s invasion, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The order came at a meeting in Moscow between Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin. The order from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu came at a meeting in Moscow between Shoigu and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin as the Ukrainian forces were making further advances towards Kherson city from two directions.
The Russian troops will be withdrawing from the west bank of the Dnipro river, an area that includes Kherson city, CNN reported citing Russian state media.
However, Ukrainian officials still seem to be sceptical of the situation.
“Actions speak louder than words. We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight,” CNN cited Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in the Office of the President from his tweet.
Ukraine “is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements,” Podolyak added.
Notably, Ukrainian forces disabling bridges across the Dnipro river and attacking Russian supply lines made it very difficult for Russia to defend the occupied territory.
“Kherson [city] and adjacent settlements in the current conditions cannot be fully supplied and function,” CNN quoted Russian Defense Ministry, Surovikin as saying.
As per CNN, Russia’s withdrawal from Russia would be the most significant military development since the Ukrainian forces were able to sweep through the northern Kharkiv region back in September.
Kherson was one of four Ukrainian regions that were ‘illegally’ annexed by Russia in September. Once the withdrawal is complete, several thousand square kilometres of that annexed territory will have been surrendered, CNN reported.
As per NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also welcomed the decision and called it a result of the courage of Ukrainian armed forces and the continuous support of the West.
“The withdrawal demonstrates the courage, the determination, the commitment of Ukrainian armed forces and also the importance of the continued support of the West,” CNN quoted NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as saying.
Earlier on Wednesday, the European Commission on Wednesday proposed an unprecedented support package for Ukraine of up to EUR18 billion for 2023. This will come in the form of highly concessional loans, disbursed in regular instalments as of 2023.
This stable, regular and predictable financial assistance – averaging EUR1.5 billion per month – will help cover a significant part of Ukraine’s short-term funding needs for 2023, which the Ukrainian authorities and the International Monetary Fund estimate at EUR3 to EUR4 billion per month. The support put forward by the EU would need to be matched by similar efforts by other major donors in order to cover all of Ukraine’s funding needs for 2023.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict which started eight months ago has jolted Europe. The European Union and its Member States have shown solidarity with people fleeing the war.
The Union has immediately mobilised support to the Ukrainian government to keep its essential functions going, on top of the emergency and humanitarian assistance, and military aid provided to Ukraine.