According to the US’s top general, more than 100,000 soldiers were killed or injured in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
General Mark Milley stated that as many as 40,000 civilians in Ukraine had been killed and added that the two armies may have suffered similar casualties.
General Milley, speaking to the Economic Club of New York, stated that initial indicators indicated Russia was ready to withdraw from Kherson.
He cautioned, however, that it might take some time.
He said, “There has been an immense amount of suffering, human suffering.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy stated on Tuesday that he is open to talks with Russia to end the conflict. However, Russia must return all of Ukraine’s occupied territories, compensate for war damage and face prosecution for war crimes.
The Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu directed troops to leave the area of Kherson, a strategic city in southern Ukraine. This was a significant setback for Mr Putin’s forces and could prove pivotal in the war.
Ukraine was still skeptical about Russia’s news and intentions. However, some of Putin’s forces were still in Kherson. Reinforcements were being sent to the area.
“They are moving out, but not as much than would be happening if it were a full pullout of regrouping,” Oleksiy Arestovych (advisor to President Zelenskyy) said in a Wednesday night video message.
Russian withdrawal could be weeks
Gen Milley, the most senior US military officer, stated that Russia had amassed between 20,000 and 30,000 troops in Kherson, and that a complete retreat could take several days.
“The first indicators suggest they are actually doing it. They announced publicly that they were doing it. He said that he believes they are doing it to protect their forces to re-establish defensive line south of (Dnipro). But, that remains to be seen.”
After the invasion, Kherson was the only capital that Putin’s forces had captured. Since then, it has been the focal point of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
In recent weeks, Russian-installed officials have evacuated tens of thousands of civilians from Kherson, which is the only land route to the Crimea Peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.
Ukraine strengthens positions
According to Yuri Butusov (Ukrainian military analyst), the use by the Ukrainian army of high-mobility artillery missile systems (HIMARS), had made Dnipro river crossings extremely dangerous, making it impossible for Russia to defend them.
He said, “But let’s not forget. The Russian forces will assume defensive positions and be able carry out new attacks. It will be able for a while to keep its east bank positions.”
On Wednesday night, President Zelenskyy addressed the nation, saying that Ukrainian forces are strengthening their positions in the south. He warned that the enemy would not make any gifts to them.
Zelenskyy advises Ukrainians to “be restrained” as Putin orders Kherson’s withdrawal
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During this time, US President Joe Biden stated that Moscow’s decision to withdraw from Kherson was a sign of “real problems with Russia’s military”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was happy to hear about Kherson’s story, but warned in an interview in Sky News that Russia could still inflict great damage.
Russian forces attacked more than 25 villages and towns along the southern front.
According to Reuters news agency, the main bridge of a road from Kherson was torn down. A top Russian official in Ukraine was also killed in a car accident. This was a blow to Moscow in the south Kherson region, amid the impending withdrawal Russian forces.
David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian politician, was the leader of Kyiv’s delegation at peace talks in early Russia’s invasion. He stated that a military operation was being conducted in the Kherson area.
He stated that Russia’s current circumstances were critical and added: “Sooner than later, they either will leave Kherson, Donetsk or Luhansk (in Crimea), or be destroyed.”
The Ukrainians could face many booby traps at Kherson, and could be subject to intense Russian artillery bombardments.