Military think tank: Russia withdraws officers from Kherson
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s military leadership has withdrawn its officers from the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, the Institute for the Study of War said Sunday.
To delay a Ukrainian counteroffensive while the Russians complete their withdrawal, Moscow has left newly mobilized, inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river, it added.
The deployment of troops comes after the Ukrainian army announced that its forces continued a counteroffensive in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions.
On Saturday, Russian-appointed authorities in Ukraine told all residents of Kherson to leave immediately ahead of an expected move by Ukrainian troops to retake the city.
Kherson has been in Russian hands since the first days of the eight-month war in Ukraine. The city is the capital of the region of the same name, one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and placed under Russian martial law on Thursday.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombarded Russian positions across the province, targeting pro-Kremlin forces’ supply routes across the Dnieper River and preparing for a final push to retake the city.
The ISW think tank also said on Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy of targeting power plants in recent days is aimed at reducing Ukrainians’ will to fight and forcing the Ukrainian government to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. It said the effort was unlikely to harm Ukrainian morale, but would have a significant economic impact.
The Ukrainian military said Sunday that Russian forces are now mostly on the defensive, but are continuing offensive attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure and several towns in the eastern Donbas region.
Nine regions across Ukraine, from Odesa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, again experienced attacks targeting energy and other critical infrastructure over the past day, the Ukrainian General Staff announced. It reports a total of 25 Russian airstrikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine.
Ukrainian counteroffensive forces in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, meanwhile, targeted Russian-controlled facilities, particularly in the town of Nova Kahovka, and conducted 17 airstrikes in the campaign overall, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
In a Telegram post on Sunday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed 14 Iranian-made Russian drones over the past day.
Russian S-300 missile attacks hit a residential area in the city of Mykolaiv during the night, injuring three people, the southern command of the Ukrainian army announced. Two residential buildings, a playground and a warehouse were damaged or destroyed, according to a Facebook post. The reports could not be immediately verified.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s security services said Sunday they had arrested the longtime head of a major aircraft engine factory, accusing him of cooperating with Russia by supplying military equipment for Russian attack planes.
Vyacheslav Bohuslayev, the president of the Motor Sich factory in Zaporozhye, and another high-ranking factory official were accused of cooperation and “aiding the aggressor state”.
Ukraine’s SBU security service said in a statement that the two were accused of colluding with a Russian arms manufacturer close to the Kremlin to supply Ukrainian-made engines and spare parts to Russian forces. The SBU described a complex scheme using intermediaries in three countries to avoid sanctions against Russia.
Motor Sich is one of the leading manufacturers in Ukraine and has been a key producer of aircraft engines since Soviet times. Its facilities were repeatedly the target of Russian attacks during the war. Engines made by Motor Sich were used to equip Russian helicopters before deliveries were halted following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
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