Ukraine retracts reports on the departure of Russian soldiers in the Kherson region
The Ukrainian military quickly retracted its claim that Russian forces withdrew on Thursday from a strategic city in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, while Moscow-backed leaders mocked Kiev over the report.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in an initial update on Thursday that all Russian military units have withdrawn from the town of Nova Kakhovka on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
It would have signaled an important development: the first settlement of any size on the east bank by Ukraine since Russian forces were pushed out of Kherson and captured the west bank last November.
But the General Staff backtracked soon after, saying this in a statement on Facebook: “The passengers are still temporarily residing in Nova Kakhovka. Information about the alleged departure of the enemy from this settlement was published as a result of incorrect use of available data.
Russia criticized the report: at the time of Ukraine’s withdrawal, Russian-appointed officials and military bloggers had vigorously denied Ukraine’s claims of a military withdrawal from Nova Kakhovka.
Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-appointed commander in the occupied Kherson region, said that “all Russian military personnel in Nova Kakhovka, as well as elsewhere on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, are still in their posts.”
Saldo noted that the allegation related to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visit to the region, which he said had a “weak PR effect”.
Vladimir Leontyev, the Russian-backed leader in Nova Kakhovka, also called the claim false, calling it “disinformation” and an act of propaganda.
Russian military correspondent Alexander Coats mocked the Telegram report.
Recent events in the region: While Russia fortified several settlements on the eastern bank of the river near Kherson, those closest to the Dnipro River came under repeated attacks from Ukraine, including those of the Special Forces.
Nova Kakhovka is an area worth watching in the fighting, as it is the site of a major hydroelectric project and the entrance to a canal feeding Crimea with fresh water from the Dnipro River.
According to unofficial accounts on social media, explosions rocked the city at the end of last week and a fire broke out near or inside the city’s grain elevator.
Some Telegram channels claim that a fuel depot caught fire, along with Russian military equipment. These accounts cannot be verified.
In mid-March, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Ukrainian forces launched a massive artillery attack on the Sokol neighborhood of Nova Kakhovka, killing a woman and damaging homes, shops and power lines.
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