Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Russia’s military command has withdrawn its officers in the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of Ukrainian forces advancing, the Institute for the Studies of War, a think tank, said Sunday.
She added that to delay the Ukrainian counterattack as the Russians completed their withdrawal, Moscow left newly mobilized and inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river.
The troop movements come at a time when the Ukrainian army said that its forces continued their counter-attacks in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions.
On Saturday, the Russian authorities in Ukraine asked all Kherson residents to leave immediately before the expected action by Ukrainian forces to retake the city. More than 20,000 civilians have been evacuated to the left bank of the Dnieper River, Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Russian-backed regional administration in Kherson, said Sunday.
He said that while Ukrainian forces were trying to launch their attack on the Right Bank, Russian defensive lines were reinforced and the situation remained stable.
Kherson was in Russian hands from 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 regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and brought under Russian martial law on Thursday.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombed Russian positions across the province, targeting the resupply routes of pro-Kremlin forces across the river and preparing for a final step to retake the city.
The ISW think tank also said Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy to target power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at reducing the will of Ukrainians to fight and forcing the Ukrainian government to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. She said these efforts were unlikely to damage Ukrainian morale but would have a significant economic impact.
Russian attacks on energy supplies led to an emergency suspension of fertilizer production at a major chemical plant, Revnezot, in northwest Ukraine. On Sunday, the company said the suspension did not pose an environmental risk.
The mayor of Enerhodar, home of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, reported an attack on a hotel used by the Russian occupying forces and those cooperating with them. It is unclear if anyone has been injured.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces are now mostly on the defensive, but continue offensive attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and on several towns in the eastern Donbass region.
Ukraine’s General Staff said that nine regions across Ukraine, from Odessa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, have again seen attacks targeting energy and other vital infrastructure over the past day. It reported 25 Russian air strikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian counter-attack forces in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions targeted Russian-controlled facilities, in particular in the town of Nova Kakhovka, and carried out 17 airstrikes in the overall campaign, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
And the Ukrainian army claimed in the Telegram Post Sunday, that it destroyed 14 Russian-Iranian-made drones during the past day.
Overnight, Russian S-300 missile strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the city of Mykolaiv, injuring three people, according to the Ukrainian Army’s Southern Command. It said in a Facebook post that two apartment buildings, a stadium and a warehouse were damaged or destroyed. Pictures shared by local media and officials on Telegram showed a one-sided apartment building cut off, and piles of rubble amid puddles on the adjacent land.
The rulers of two Russian regions on Ukraine’s northeastern border have said defensive lines are being built, apparently in anticipation of cross-border attacks as Ukrainian forces advance.
Kursk Governor Roman Starovit said on Sunday that two defensive lines have already been built in the region and a third line will be completed by November 5.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that defensive lines had also been built in his region. On Saturday, he published pictures of pyramid-shaped concrete blocks lines aimed at obstructing the movement of armored vehicles.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s security services said on Sunday they had arrested the longtime head of a large aircraft engine factory, accusing him of collaborating with Russia by supplying Russian attack aircraft with military equipment.
Vyacheslav Bohuslaev, head of the Motor Sich plant in Zaporizhzhia, and another senior official of the plant were assigned to cooperate and “help the aggressor state”.
The Ukrainian Security Service said in a statement that the two were accused of colluding with a Russian arms maker close to the Kremlin to supply Russian forces with Ukrainian-made engines and spare parts. The SBU described a complex scheme that uses intermediaries in three countries to evade sanctions against Russia.
Motor Sich is one of the leading manufacturers in Ukraine and is a major manufacturer of aircraft engines since the Soviet era. Its facilities were repeatedly targeted by Russian strikes during the war.
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