Russian President Vladimir Putin at that time ordered the mobilization of 300,000 reservists to consolidate the lines and regain the initiative on the ground. Tens of thousands of members of that contingent are already in combat zones.
“Proceed to withdraw the soldiers,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian operations in Ukraine, on television on Wednesday, admitting that the decision to withdraw to the right bank of the Dnieper River It wasn’t “easy at all”.
Russia thus abandons not only its greatest campaign trophy, a city that before the conflict had 280,000 inhabitants, but also the capital of one of the four areas that it annexed at the end of September.
The Kherson region is also of strategic importance as it borders the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared at night that his country was reacting with “extreme caution” to Russia’s announcement. “The enemy does not give us any gifts, he does not show any ‘goodwill gesture’, we must earn everything,” Zelensky said in a message. “Thus, we must show extreme caution, without emotions, without taking useless risks, to liberate our entire land with the least possible loss.”