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Ukraine invasion Day 274: how Moscow’s amazingly orderly withdrawal from Kherson unfolded

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It is gradually becoming clearer how the Russian troops managed the comparatively orderly withdrawal from Cherson at the beginning of November. In view of the sometimes chaotic warfare since February, this is quite a surprise; Apparently less equipment and ammunition was lost in the process than during the hasty retreat from Kharkiv a few weeks earlier.

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According to an elite Ukrainian unit whose members were interviewed by CNN (source here), the Russian units lost around half of their soldiers before withdrawing from Cherson. In addition, around 90 tanks were destroyed, a huge number. The precision weapons delivered from the West would have made the difference over the months. They would have compensated for the disadvantage that the Russians had significantly more equipment and ammunition.

In the days before Moscow’s troops began withdrawing, the artillery fire had been increased significantly in order to keep the Ukrainian units at a distance. At the same time, the Kremlin has been quite successful in covering up the real plans for Kherson. Shortly before the withdrawal, troops were transferred to Cherson to give the impression that the area was to be held. At the same time, heavy equipment such as artillery and tanks in particular seems to have been brought across the Dnipro to the east side of the river for weeks.

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To the very last, the Ukrainians believed that the Russians would defend the territory. “We couldn’t believe they were really gone until we got to their empty positions,” says Rodriguez, a member of the team.

During the night of November 8th and 9th, the second and third Russian defense lines set out towards the river. The troops in the front line retreated towards the river early in the morning of the 9th, leaving behind heavily mined terrain to slow down the Ukrainians. On the afternoon of November 9, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukraine Commander-in-Chief Sergei Surovikin announced the withdrawal. By November 10, all Russian troops had reached the east side of the river. On the 11th all the soldiers, probably around 20,000 men, had crossed over to the east side. On the same day, the Ukrainians reached the center of Kherson to cheers.

The most important news of the day

  • Could Angela Merkel have done more to prevent Putin’s war on Ukraine? The ex-Chancellor has to face this criticism again and again. She says so herself. More here.
  • The Russian military has moved airborne troops to important front sections. According to the British secret service, poorly trained personnel dilute the elite status of the units. More here.
  • On the evening of September 26, a rocket reportedly hit a residential building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Three civilians were injured. The New York Times (NYT) now reports that the projectile was an American-made air-to-surface missile. The journalists base their claim on conversations with local residents and missile debris. More in our news blog here.
  • Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has reacted cautiously to proposals by the Polish government to leave Patriot air defense systems offered by Germany to Ukraine. The Patriots are part of NATO’s integrated air defense and intended for NATO territory, said the SPD politician on Thursday in Berlin. “And if they are deployed outside of NATO territory, then that must first be discussed with NATO and the Allies,” she said after speaking with her Estonian colleague Hanno Pevkur.
  • Russian oil supplies to Slovakia via the Druzhba pipeline through Ukraine have been disrupted. This is announced by the Czech pipeline operator Mero. The reason is power outages. The oil transport to the Czech Republic is running normally.
  • Barely a day after nationwide Russian rocket attacks, the water supply in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has been restored. “But it will take a while for the water pipe system to work at full capacity again,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned on Thursday on the Telegram news channel. In high-rise buildings in particular, the water pressure is not always sufficient.
  • The three Ukrainian nuclear power plants that were disconnected from the power grid after Russian attacks have come back online. It was possible to reconnect the three plants controlled by Ukraine in the morning, the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy announced on Thursday in the online service Telegram. The nuclear power plants should therefore supply electricity again from the evening.
  • According to their own statements, the authorities have discovered torture chambers and killed civilians in the part of the southern Ukrainian region of Cherson liberated by Russian troops. “The bodies of 432 civilians who were murdered were found,” said Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin on television on Thursday.
  • The EU Parliament has approved plans for new billions in loans to Ukraine. The up to 18 billion euros should enable Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, to cover current expenses for hospitals and schools, for example. This was announced by the EU Parliament on Thursday in Strasbourg.
  • Russia says it has issued more than 80,000 Russian passports to residents of the four Ukrainian regions declared annexed by Moscow. “Since the four regions of the Russian Federation were added, and in accordance with the law, more than 80,000 people have received passports as citizens of the Russian Federation,” Russian news agencies quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying on Thursday.
  • The Russian parliament passed the budget for the coming year on Thursday – and forecast a deficit and a decline in economic output. “The budget was the heaviest in recent years: sanctions and the development of the world economy make it practically impossible to predict,” said Duma chief Vyacheslav Volodin, according to a statement published on the Duma’s official website.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has described the Russian attacks on Ukraine’s electricity and water supplies as war crimes, which must have consequences. “Today there were massive bombing raids on Ukraine, leaving large parts of the country without water and electricity,” Macron said on Wednesday evening. “Any strike against civilian infrastructure constitutes a war crime and must not go unpunished.”
  • The most recent Russian attacks on electricity plants and other infrastructure facilities in Ukraine have not yet resulted in significantly more people from the country seeking refuge in Germany. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that since the peak in March, the number of war refugees from Ukraine identified by the federal police when entering Germany or in the country has fallen.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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