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UK Intelligence: Russian soldiers could have dressed as civilians and evacuated together with them during retreat from Kherson

The withdrawal of Russian troops from the city of Kherson could have started as early as 22 October, the day the occupation “government” asked the residents to leave the city, the latest UK Defence Intelligence update reads.

According to the British Defence, “there is a realistic possibility that Russian military equipment and forces in civilian attire had been evacuating in conjunction with the 80,000 stated evacuated civilians in recent weeks.” Ukrainian Telegram channels previously reported that Russian soldiers in Kherson had been throwing out their military uniforms and dressing in civilian clothes.

“Kherson was the only regional capital city captured since February by Russian forces so the withdrawal brings significant reputational damage,” the British agency emphasises.

According to the UK Defence Ministry, it is also likely that Russian troops “destroyed road and rail bridges over the Dnipro River as part” of the withdrawal.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claims that the satellite images posted by the Maxar company confirm declarations from both Ukrainian and Russian sources about Russia’s troops destroying the Antonivka road bridge, a railways bridge across the Dnipro River in the Kherson city area, a bridge across the Dnipro River in the area of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the Darivka bridge that crosses the Inhulets River.

According to ISW’s experts, Russian forces plan to thus block the advance of Ukraine’s troops into the central part of the Kherson region.

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Yesterday, 11 November, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry announced that the city of Kherson was back under control of Ukraine‘s Armed Forces, with videos of Ukrainian servicemen entering Kherson appearing on social media. Earlier in the day, Russia’s Defence Ministry declared that all Russian troops had crossed the Dnipro River in the Kherson region and were on the east bank of the river. According to the ministry, “not a single piece of equipment or weaponry was left on the west bank”.

On 9 November, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered troops to retreat from the Ukrainian city of Kherson and cross the Dnipro River. Formally, Kherson — the only regional capital that Russia had managed to capture since the beginning of the invasion — was “part of Russia” for 41 days.

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