Ukraine Calls for Evacuations From a Russian-Controlled Area

“Russian forces clearly do not expect to be able to prevent Ukrainian forces from getting across the river, nor are the Russians prioritizing defensive positions to stop such a crossing,” the Institute for the Study of War said this past week after analyzing publicly available satellite photos of the Russian defensive positions.

The Russian withdrawal from Kherson was both an embarrassment for the Kremlin, which had only recently declared the region to be a part of Russia, and a strategic setback, as it put the Ukrainians in a better position to threaten supply lines from Crimea with long-range precision weapons provided by the West.

Since their retreat, Russian forces have continued to shell the region and the city of Kherson. The local Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday that Russian troops had opened fire 28 times the previous day, striking a number of targets, including residential buildings and an oncology center. Those details could not be independently verified.

After being driven across the Dnipro, Russian forces set about fortifying defensive positions about 10 to 20 miles from the eastern bank, according to the Ukrainian military and satellite images. But the river divides Ukrainian and Russian forces along a route that stretches more than 200 miles, and Russian forces are spread thin.

Farther to the northeast, where the river widens into a vast reservoir held back by a vital dam in Nova Kakhovka, Ukrainian officials and residents said that the Russian occupation administration this past week began to flee farther east.

The Ukrainian military has noted that it was seeing a decrease in the number of Russian troops in the towns and villages along the river. “A minimal number of occupiers remain in the cities,” the military said last month.

The account was supported by local residents reached by telephone in recent days.

North of the dam, speculation continued to swirl around Russian intentions at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war, and where Ukrainian intelligence has estimated that at least 500 Russian soldiers are garrisoned.

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