Russia's Kherson exit shows Ukraine's ability to 'conjure misdirection' in war, an expert has told GB News.
British intelligence analysts believe Moscow’s exit from Kherson, a strategically key city, likely began as early as October 22 when Russian-installed figures urged civilians to leave.
It is anticipated that Ukraine has now retaken large areas of the Kherson region on the western bank of the Dnipro River, with its forces largely in control of city itself.
Russia said its troops finished withdrawing from the western bank at 5am local time on November 11, paving the way for Ukrainians to cautiously move towards reclaiming the territory.
Videos and pictures posted on social media later showed residents celebrating in the streets, with the Ukrainian flag flying over a central Kherson square.
Kherson was one of the first Ukrainian cities to be captured in the war Moscow waged on its neighbour from February 24.
The retreat, which was ordered amid a Ukrainian counter-offensive, represents a huge blow to president Russian president Vladimir Putin – who has so far remained silent on the development.
Ukraine is yet to claim the city is back in Ukrainian hands, but the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “life is returning”.
People celebrate after Russia's retreat from Kherson, in central Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters
Speaking to Stephen and Anne on GB News, Defence Editor at the Evening Standard Robert Fox said the recapture showed Ukraine's ability to manipulate the information they release about their movements to benefit their strategy: “The Ukrainians of course have been very Ukrainian and intelligent about this and said ‘it ain’t all over, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet’, they could be quite vulnerable in Kherson."
Mr Fox continued: “They’re so clever in what you call conjuring misdirection, at the beginning of last week they were saying the real heavy fighting is going on in Donetsk… they knew things were going to crack.”
Russian forces still control about 70% of the wider Kherson region in the wake of the withdrawal.
A Ukrainian soldier waves the national flag in Klapaya village, Kherson Region Reuters
In an intelligence update posted on social media, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Moscow’s troops had “highly likely” destroyed road and rail bridges over the Dnipro River as part of their retreat.
The exit was formally announced on November 9, but the defence experts said it is likely it started as early as October 22.
“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,” they said.
The MoD said is it probable Moscow is still attempting to evacuate forces from other parts of the region across the river to defensible positions on the eastern bank.
“Kherson was the only regional capital city captured since February by Russian forces so the withdrawal brings significant reputational damage,” it said.
Russia's Kherson exit shows Ukraine's ability to 'conjure misdirection' in war, an expert has told GB News GB News