Ukraine: Russian army in “tense” situation, says Surovikin
LONDON (Reuters) – The new commander of Russia’s army in Ukraine admitted on Tuesday that his troops were facing a “tense” situation and had to make difficult decisions.
These remarks by Sergei Surovikin over the antenna of public broadcaster Rossiya 24 come as the Russian-appointed governor in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine announced the evacuation of civilians amid the threat of a Ukrainian attack.
“The situation in the area of military special operations can be described as tense,” said Sergei Surovikin, an air force general who was appointed this month to head the Russian armed forces deployed in Ukraine, where they have been suffering from a Ukrainian counter-offensive since early September .
“The enemy is constantly trying to attack the positions of the Russian troops,” he continued. “This primarily affects the Kupyansk, Lyman and Mykolaiv-Kryvyi Rih sectors.”
Kupiansk and Lyman are located in eastern Ukraine, and the Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih oblasts mainly comprise the northern Kherson region.
The Russian army has retreated 20-30km in the Kherson sector in recent weeks and is at risk of being cornered on the right or west bank of the Dnieper.
Shortly after Sergei Surovikin’s remarks were broadcast, the pro-Russian governor of Kherson announced an “organized, gradual eviction” of residents from four towns on the right bank of the river.
In a video message, Vladimir Saldo, without providing any evidence, accused Ukrainian forces of preparing to destroy a large dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station.
“The Ukrainian side is gathering forces for a full-scale offensive,” he said.
“There is an imminent risk of flooding (…) due to the planned destruction of the Kakhovka Dam and the release of water from a number of power plants upstream of the Dnieper,” he said.
For his part, Sergei Surovikin seemed to realize that Ukrainian forces were now risking advancing on the city of Kherson, located near the mouth of the Dnieper on the right bank. Kherson is also difficult for the Russian army to supply because the main bridge to the left bank of the Dnieper was badly damaged by a Ukrainian bombardment.
The Russian army captured Kherson without encountering any real resistance in the first days of its invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24. Kherson remains the only major Ukrainian city that the Russian army has taken without major destruction.
“Our future plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson itself will depend on the upcoming military-tactical situation. I repeat, it’s already very difficult today,” said Sergei Surovikin.
“We will act conscientiously and in a timely manner, without ruling out difficult decisions.”
(Reuters editors, French version Bertrand Boucey)
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