Ukraine: Russia withdraws Kherson officer, think tank says

KYIV, Ukraine –

The Russian military leadership has withdrawn its officers from the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, the Institute for the Study of War said on Sunday.

To delay the Ukrainian counterattack when the Russians completed their retreat, Moscow left newly mobilized, inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river, it added.

The troop movements came as the Ukrainian military said its forces were continuing to operate counter-attacks in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

On Saturday, Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine asked all Kherson residents to leave immediately ahead of the planned action by Ukrainian troops to retake the city.

Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of the eight-month war in Ukraine. The city is the capital of a region of the same name, one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and put Russia under martial law on Thursday.

On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombarded Russian positions across the province, targeting pro-Kremlin supply routes across the Dnieper River and preparing for a final push to retake it. city.

The ISW think tank also said on Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy targeting power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at weakening the Ukrainian people’s will to fight and forcing the government to fight back. The Ukrainian government must spend extra resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. It said the effort was not likely to damage Ukrainian morale but would have a significant economic impact.

Ukraine’s military said on Sunday that Russian forces are currently mainly on the defensive, but are continuing their attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and on several towns in the eastern region. Donbas.

Nine regions across Ukraine, from Odesa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, saw attacks again on energy and other critical infrastructure over the past day, the ministry said. Ukraine’s General Staff said. It reported a total of 25 Russian air strikes and more than 100 rocket and artillery strikes around Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian counter-attack forces in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have targeted Russian-held facilities, especially in the town of Nova Kakhovka, and carried out 17 airstrikes during the entire operation. , according to the Ukrainian general staff.

In a Telegram post on Sunday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed 14 Iranian-made Russian drones in the past day.

Attacks with Russian S-300 missiles overnight hit a residential area in the city of Mykolaiv, injuring three people, according to the Ukrainian military command. Two apartment buildings, a playground and a warehouse were damaged or destroyed, it said in a Facebook post. Reports cannot be verified immediately.

In another development, Ukraine’s security services said they had arrested the longtime director of a large aircraft engine factory, accusing him of collaborating with Russia by supplying military equipment. for Russian attack aircraft.

Viacheslav Bohuslaiev, president of the Motor Sich plant in Zaporizhzhia, and another top factory official were accused of collaborating with and “supporting the aggressor state”.

Ukraine’s security service SBU said in a statement that the two allegedly colluded with a Russian arms manufacturer close to the Kremlin to supply Ukrainian-made engines and spare parts to Russian forces. . The SBU describes an elaborate scheme that uses intermediaries in three countries to evade sanctions against Russia.

Motor Sich is one of Ukraine’s leading manufacturers and has been a key producer of aircraft engines since the Soviet era. Its facilities were repeatedly targeted by Russian air raids during the war. Engines manufactured by Motor Sich were used to power Russian helicopters before supplies were cut off following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.

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