Kherson, a crucial southern city, has been ordered to be evacuated by Russian soldiers, dealing Moscow a fatal blow after weeks of Ukrainian advances.
During a broadcast on Wednesday, Gen. Sergei Surovikin made the announcement and said that it was no longer able to supply Kherson city.
Russian troops would be better used, in Surovikin’s opinion, on the defensive positions along the Dnipro River’s eastern bank.
“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, in general, the combat effectiveness of the group of troops, which it is futile to keep on the right bank in a limited area,” Surovikin added.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian soldiers have pushed closer to the important city, forcing Russia to scramble to find new homes for tens of thousands of its citizens.
As the war enters its tenth month, the retreat is also a significant win for Ukraine.
Ukraine has long aimed to retake the significant city of Kherson and drive Russian forces east of the Dnipro River.
The pullback was authorized by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who concurred with Surovikin’s assessment that the forces would be more effectively used in their new positions.
“I agree with your conclusions and proposals. For us, the life and health of Russian servicemen is always a priority. We must take into account the threats to the civilian population. Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of personnel, weapons and equipment across the Dnipro River,” Shoigu said.
The largest city in the same-named area of Ukraine is Kherson, which is also one of the four territories that Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he was permanently absorbing into Russia in September.