“Putin was convinced that it was necessary. What is the greatest danger surrounding the Russian retreat of from Kherson”, Oleksiy Melnyk (Razumkov Centre, Ukraine)

It was clear that Russia’s chances of keeping the right-bank part of Ukraine were decreasing day by day, and this is not an opinion of a cheering patriot or propagandist, because it is next to impossible to keep such a contingent, estimated at around 40,000, with all the equipment and logistics needs, while the two supply channels are under the enemy fire. Therefore, the question was only “when”, or “how Kherson will be liberated”: will it be retaken, or the occupiers will flee Kherson.

Why did Russia delay this decision until now? This unfavourable situation was clear to them as soon as Ukraine started striking bridges with HIMARS.There are two important aspects here, in my opinion. The first one is military. The second is political.

When Sergey Surovikin, as the newly appointed commander, spoke on October 18 about his readiness for “difficult decisions”, he obviously had this in mind. But he, like any other Russian general, understood that he would not be allowed to do so without the go-ahead from the top. And it doesn’t matter how he reasoned this retreat. Like any Russian general, he was afraid to tell Putin the truth. There is a Russian proverb about what happens to the one who brings bad news. Therefore, Surovikin tried to convey that a disaster awaited them on the right bank of the Dnieper in Kherson region, if they don’t decide to withdraw.

The political value of Kherson is absolutely obvious. Russia (Kremlin, Putin) put themselves in a situation that could not be worse by declaring this territory Russian. Which could be an even more painful blow to the image of this great macho, who in fact showed his weakness? It involves both political and personal risks for Putin as the head of state, who presented himself as a macho man who had everything under control.

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