More than 3 weeks after Russia announced its withdrawal from Kherson and Ukrainian forces took control, officials in Kiev lifted the ban on crossing the Dnieper River and encouraged residents on the Moscow-controlled eastern bank to flee, but remained besieged.
Few residents accepted the offer of Ukrainian officials and one of them was killed while trying to escape, according to a Washington Post report.
Preparation for the spring battle in Kherson
Faced with these developments, the United States of America believed that the battles would continue despite Ukrainian control and Russian withdrawal, but in different way.
National Intelligence Director Avril Haines revealed America expects fighting in Ukraine will continue in the coming months, but at a slow pace.
He explained that natural factors have reduced the intensity of battles in recent times, in particular that mud, rain and bad winter weather prevented the passage of large vehicles in some areas characterized by difficult geographical terrain in Ukraine, according to reports from the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.
He also saw that there is a slowdown in fighting in Kherson, suggesting that the two sides in the battle are now looking to re-equip and prepare supplies for a possible engagement next spring.
He added that, in his opinion, they were preparing for a counterattack from across the city.
However, he confirmed that there are American doubts about Moscow’s readiness for a major battle in Kherson, while the Ukrainian military is considering the next step should the fighting actually begin.
In a related context, he stressed that Russia suffers from obstacles that could prevent the start of a close battle, including its inability to produce munitions locally as quickly as it once did, and is therefore seeking the help of others countries, explaining that this will be a big challenge for it.
These developments come weeks after the sudden withdrawal by Russian forces last month (November 2022) from the western bank of the Dnipro River, but they have shelled towns and villages, including the city of Kherson, from new locations on the opposite bank.
It launched a series of intense infrastructure-focused attacks last week, prompting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to confirm that Russian forces have shelled 30 areas in the Kherson region, 258 times.
Since last October, Moscow has adopted a new strategy in its attacks that have focused on infrastructure, especially after the setbacks it has faced in eastern and southern Ukraine, including the withdrawal of its forces from Kherson, in addition to the attacks received in Crimea, which was annexed to its territory in 2014.
The withdrawal from Kherson was a major setback for the Russian military, especially as it was the first major Ukrainian city to fall into its hands since the conflict broke out on 24 February.
It also constitutes, together with Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, the four regions that the Kremlin announced at the end of September (2022) to annex.
Furthermore, its geographical position is of particular importance, in as the region lies on the borders of the Dnipro, Petrovsk and Nikolaev regions, and has land borders with the Crimea in the south, while facing the Black Sea in the southwest, and in the southeast the Sea of Azov.
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