Russia Retreats from Kherson

Eight months ago, during the early days of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia captured the strategic city of Kherson. The seizure of the important port and industrial city had been a symbolic prize of the invasion.

In response to the capturing of Kherson, Ukraine launched a southern counteroffensive on Aug. 29 to expel Russian Forces occupying the southern regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts. As of Oct. 17, Ukraine had liberated numerous small villages and over 1,170 square kilometers of occupied territory.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Russia made one of the most significant reversals of President Vladmir Putin’s war effort by retreating from this region.

The seizure of Kherson had given Moscow an important foothold west of the Dnipro River, from where it expanded and which it hoped to use as a base to push farther west, the end goal being the port city of Odesa.

According to the New York Times, Yuri Kotyonok, a military analyst, said, “The decision is shocking to thousands and millions of people who are fighting for Russia, dying for Russia, believe in Russia and share the beliefs of the Russian world.”

This decision comes approximately a month after an explosion occurred on or near the westbound lanes of the Crimean Bridge, heading towards Kerch in Crimea itself.

According to a senior Ukranian official who spoke with the New York Times, “Ukraine’s intelligence services had orchestrated the attack and that it involved a bomb loaded onto a truck that drove across the bridge.”

On the other hand, Russia claimed that a bomb exploded while being carried by a truck going full speed using an improvised explosive device.

While Russia’s top military leaders attempted to justify the withdrawal, it is undoubtedly a major and humiliating setback for the Russian cause. Russian defense chiefs have claimed they are pulling back their troops to the east bank of the Dnipro River to save the lives of soldiers and civilians.

According to the New York Post, Russian General Sergey Surovikin, the recently appointed commander of the war, stated, “I understand that this is a very difficult decision, but at the same time we will preserve the most important thing – the lives of our servicemen and the overall combat capability of the grouping of troops, which is futile to keep on the right (west) bank in a limited area.” However, Ukrainian troops remain wary of being lured into a trap as Putin previously vowed the territory would be Russian citizens “forever.”

A junior Monmouth University student majoring in marine and environmental biology and policy with a minor in geographical information systems explained their perspective on the ongoing conflict, stating, “I think that Russia-Ukrainian conflict is occurring because of money. The people in power are profiting from this war while many people are suffering, which is disgusting.”

A junior criminal justice student stated, “When it comes to the Russia Ukraine retreat I think that it is definitely a good thing for Ukraine and it weakens Russian position and strategy. Other countries might view Russia as weakened right now and it shows the lack of strength in their military however I would still be cautious as it can be a retreat to regroup and replan to attack again.”