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Russia announced its retreat from Kherson, but Ukrainian counteroffensive is far from over

“The enemy does not bring us gifts, does not make “gestures of goodwill”,” reminded the President of Ukraine.

On November 9, Russia announced the withdrawal of its forces from the right bank of the Dnipro river, which includes Kherson – the only regional center occupied since the beginning of a full-scale invasion.

During a televised meeting, Sergey Surovikin, the Commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, proposed to organize defense on the left bank along the Dnipro River, and Sergei Shoigu, the Defense Minister of Russia, agreed to the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Ukrainian artilery in the Kherson region.
Photo: Stanislav Kozliuk / EPA

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes in its report that the battle for Kherson is not over, but Russian forces have entered a new phase. They are prioritizing withdrawing across the river in good order and delaying Ukrainian forces rather than trying to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive entirely.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the South in late August, and since has been gradually liberating towns and villages in the Kherson region. As of October 21, 88 settlements with a total population of 12,000 people were freed from Russian occupation. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, reported that just on November 9, 12 more settlements and 261 km2 of territory were liberated.

Read more: Ukrainian resistance in the south. How do the temporarily occupied areas live?

ISW also points out that Ukrainian tactics used in the counteroffensive in the Kherson region were likely successful. Due to constant Ukrainian attacks on ammunition depots, supply centers and roots, Russia could no longer supply its forces in Kherson and surrounding areas on the right bank of the Dnipro river. “Ukrainian forces combined these strikes with prudent and successful ground attacks on key locations such as Davydiv Brid. This campaign has come to fruition,” the report states.

Destroyed Russian vehicle with the “Z” symbols left on the street of the liberated village of Ivanivka, the Kherson region.
Photo: Celestino Arce / Zuma Press

At the same time, Ukrainian officials call to remain cautious. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, noted that the joy that spreads in the media space is understandable, but emotions must be restrained during the war. “You need to understand: no one just gets away if they don’t feel the strength. The enemy does not bring us gifts, does not make “gestures of goodwill.” We fight our way up. And when you are fighting, you must understand that every step is always resistance from the enemy, it is always the loss of the lives of our heroes,” said Zelenskyy in his daily address.

President of Ukraine warned Russia that any attempt by you to blow up the Kakhovka HPP, flood nearby territory, and dehydrate the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will mean a declaration of war to the entire world.

Mykhailo Podoliak, the adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine, also stated that there are still no visible signs of Russian forces leaving Kherson without a fight. “A part of the ru-group is preserved in the city, and additional reserves are charged to the region. Ukraine is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements,” said Podoliak.