Zelensky strikes cautious tone after Russia announces Kherson retreat
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed caution after Russia announced on Wednesday it was retreating from the key strategic city of Kherson.
“No one just gets away if they don’t feel the strength,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.
“The enemy does not bring us gifts, does not make ‘gestures of goodwill,’” he added. “We fight our way up. And when you are fighting, you must understand that every step is always resistance from the enemy, it is always the loss of the lives of our heroes.”
As Russia increasingly showed signs of surrendering Kherson city in recent days, including the lowering of a Russian flag over the main administrative building and the withdrawal of some of its military resources, Ukrainian officials have expressed skepticism that Russia would swiftly withdraw from the city.
“We move very carefully, without emotions, without unnecessary risk,” Zelensky said. “In the interests of the liberation of our entire land and so that the losses are as small as possible. This is how we will secure the liberation of Kherson, Kakhovka, Donetsk and our other cities.”
Kherson is the sole regional capital Moscow captured during its invasion, and its location in Ukraine’s south serves as a crucial position in Russia’s hope of creating a land bridge to the western port of Odesa. The city is also located in one of four regions Russia annexed last month.
Ukrainian forces have made piecemeal gains in the south near Kherson city in recent weeks as part of an autumn counteroffensive that has also seen massive Ukrainian territorial gains in the northeast.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, wrote on Telegram that Ukraine since Oct. 1 has recaptured 1,381 square kilometers of land in the region, liberating 41 settlements, including multiple in the last day alone following Russia’s announcement.
“Currently, we cannot confirm or deny the information about the so-called withdrawal of the Russian occupation troops from Kherson. We continue the offensive operation according to our plan,” Zaluzhnyi said.
Observers say Russia has moved at least some of its military resources across the Dnieper River but cautioned last week that it had not yet given up on its position in the city. The city is located on the west bank of the river
“Actions speak louder than words,” Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Wednesday. “We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight. A part of the ru-group is preserved in the city, and additional reserves are charged to the region. [Ukraine] is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements.”
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