Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson explained in maps


Russian troops have been ordered to withdraw from the only Ukrainian regional capital seized during the war.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Wednesday that Russia would withdraw its troops from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the first and only regional capital to be occupied by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine in late February.

The decision, Russian officials said, was made to save the lives of Russian soldiers in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive and difficulties in keeping supply lines to the strategic city open.

The city of Kherson, the capital of the province of the same name, lies on the western bank, or right, of the Dnieper River, while much of Kherson Province lies on the eastern side of the river.

Russian forces took control of the area in early March, with the city of Kherson being the only place they had a presence on the west bank of the river.

Ukraine reacted skeptically to Russia’s announcement, with officials saying it could be a plan to trap Ukrainian troops in a deadly trap.

“For now we do not know what their intentions are – will they fight with us and will they try to capture the city of Kherson? They are moving very slowly,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Russian control of Kherson

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine, invading his forces from four fronts.

On the southern front, Russian troops moved from the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, to Odessa in the west, Zaporizhzhya in the north and Mariupol in the east.

On March 2, Russia said the city of Kherson was under control. On March 15, it declared that the entire region had been taken.

Kherson is one of four Ukrainian regions where Russia held “referendums” on September 30 and was formally “annexed,” a move condemned as illegal by Ukraine and its allies.


Ukraine’s counter-offensive

Russia’s annexation moves came after military setbacks in the northeast, where Ukrainian forces managed to recapture large swaths of territory. At the same time, Ukrainian forces on the southern axis also escalated their counter-offensive.

By October, Ukrainian troops had recaptured more than 500 square kilometers of territory and dozens of settlements in the Kherson region, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian forces were able to break through the Russian front lines and target Russian lines of communication, ammunition depots, and military and transportation assets. According to the Institute for the Study of War, they also made several gains at key locations on the western bank of the Dnieper River, damaging two bridges and hindering Russia’s efforts to maintain supplies by barge and ferry. .

INTERACTIVE-Southern Counteroffensive

The strategic relevance of Kherson

The Kherson region borders Crimea and forms a land bridge between Russia and the Black Sea peninsula. If Ukraine can take back control, Russia would be robbed of that land bridge and put Crimea within reach of Ukrainian long-range artillery.

The region is also important because it has access to fresh water that supplies the dry Crimea. Ukraine had cut off freshwater supplies along a canal of the Dnieper River, which had supplied 85 percent of the peninsula’s needs after the annexation of Crimea. After Russia captured parts of Kherson and Zaporizhia, it tried to unblock the canal.

The recapture of the city of Kherson, which had a pre-war population of some 280,000, would mean that Ukraine could regain the largest urban center that fell into Russian hands. Meanwhile, it would retake the entire region, giving it control of part of the Black Sea coastline, allowing the export of food to foreign markets, which has been severely disrupted during the conflict.

INTERACTIVE- thestrategic relevance Kherson

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