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Ukraine retracts report on withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson region

The Ukrainian military on Thursday quickly backed away from saying Russian forces had withdrawn from a strategic town in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, as pro-Moscow leaders mocked Kiev over the report.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces initially said in an update on Thursday that all Russian military units had withdrawn from the town of Nova Khakovka on the east bank of the Dnipro River.

That would have marked a significant development: the first resolution of any scale by Ukraine since it expelled Russian troops from Kherson and seized the West Bank last November.

But the General Staff later backtracked, and in a statement on Facebook said: “The occupiers are still temporarily in Nowa Gakovka. The alleged withdrawal of the enemy from this settlement has become public as a result of misuse of available data.

Russia criticized the statement: At the time of Ukraine’s withdrawal, Russian-appointed officials and military bloggers had already vehemently denied Ukraine’s claims of military withdrawal from Nova Khakovka.

Vladimir Zalto, the Russian-appointed chief of staff in the occupied Kherson region, said that “all Russian military personnel in Nova Khakovka and elsewhere on the east bank of the Dnipro River are in their positions.”

Saldo noted that it was related to the recent visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he said was a “weak public relations effect.”

Vladimir Leontiev, a pro-Russian leader at Nova Khakovka, called the claim false, calling it “disinformation” and the work of propagandists.

Russian military correspondent Alexander Kotz scoffed at the report on Telegram.

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Recent developments in the region: While Russia has fortified several settlements on the east bank of the river near Kherson, those near the Dnipro have come under frequent attacks from Ukraine, including by special forces.

Nova Khakovka is a significant territory to watch in the fight because it is the site of a large hydroelectric project and the entrance to a canal that supplies Crimea with fresh water from the Dnipro River.

According to unofficial social media accounts, explosions rocked the city last weekend and a fire broke out at or near the city’s grain elevator.

Some Telegram channels claim that a fuel depot with Russian military equipment caught fire. Unable to verify those accounts.

In mid-March, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Ukrainian troops launched a massive artillery attack on the Sokol region of Nova Khakovka, killing a woman and damaging homes, shops and power lines.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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