Russia said it had finished withdrawing all its troops from the western bank of the Dnieper River in Kherson on Friday, claiming no troops or military equipment had been left behind. The withdrawal from the city, if confirmed, would mark the last major battlefield setback for the Kremlin in Ukraine.
However, it comes sooner than Western officials had predicted — U.S. Army Major General Mark A. Milley said on Tuesday the withdrawal would take “days and maybe even weeks,” while Ukraine’s defense minister had also expressed skepticism that Russia would be so could quickly withdraw.
Ukrainian officials have accused the departing Russian troops of destroying infrastructure and looting museums as they withdraw from the city of Kherson. Photos and images shared by a government advisor and the state broadcaster appeared to show that the strategic Antonovsky Bridge connecting the city of Kherson to the Russian-occupied territory to the south has been destroyed. A Ukrainian official accused Russian troops of blowing it up as they retreated.
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4. From our correspondents
Howitzers help Ukraine on the Southern Front: Ukraine has used US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS launchers, to cut off Russian forces from their supply lines in the southern regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv. It also used US-supplied howitzers to pound the Russian front line, allowing Ukrainian infantry to liberate a string of occupied towns as they marched toward Kherson, Michael E. Miller and Anastacia Galouchka of Ukraine report.
Even if the front line hasn’t moved, the US-supplied howitzers have helped the Ukrainians by preventing the Russians from having their own artillery for shorter ranges at the front. “I can’t say they changed the course of the battle,” said Lieutenant Colonel Maksym Bohachuk, 29, a history teacher who is now a battalion commander, “but they [the howitzers] accelerate our victory.”