Russia’s military leadership has withdrawn its officers from the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, the Institute for Political Science think tank said on Sunday. ‘Study of War.
To delay the Ukrainian counteroffensive while the Russians complete their withdrawal, Moscow has left newly mobilized and inexperienced forces across the wide river, he added.
The troop movements come as the Ukrainian military said its forces have continued their counteroffensives in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
On Saturday, Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine told all residents of Kherson to leave immediately ahead of planned action by Ukrainian troops to retake the city.
Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of Ukraine’s eight-month war. The city is the capital of a 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 shelled 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.
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The ISW think tank also said on Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy of targeting power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at diminishing Ukrainians’ will to fight and forcing the government of Ukraine to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. He said the effort was unlikely to damage Ukraine’s morale but would have a significant economic impact.
The Ukrainian military said on Sunday that Russian forces are now mostly on the defensive but are maintaining offensive attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and several cities in eastern Donbas.
Nine regions of Ukraine, from Odesa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, again saw attacks targeting energy and other critical infrastructure over the past day, the Ukrainian General Staff said. He reported a total of 25 Russian airstrikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine.