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World Russian forces in Kherson alert as Ukraine plans next move

17:00  24 november  2022
17:00  24 november  2022 Source:   aljazeera.com

Russian troops are building new defensive positions nearly 40 miles behind current front lines, a sign they're planning for more retreats, UK intel says

  Russian troops are building new defensive positions nearly 40 miles behind current front lines, a sign they're planning for more retreats, UK intel says An intelligence update said it's likely that Russia will try to redeploy troops who retreated from Kherson to support offensives in other regions.Ukrainian troops last week entered the southern city of Kherson after Russian President Vladimir Putin's defense chief ordered a retreat across the Dnipro (also called Dnieper) River. Kyiv's capture of the city, which was under Russian occupation since the early days of the war, followed Russian losses in the northeast and marked a massive battlefield humiliation and defeat for Moscow.

After recapturing Kherson city, Ukraine kept Russian forces guessing about their next move, pinning down occupying troops in defensive positions and rendering them unavailable for offensive operations.

Some 30,000 Russian troops that withdrew from the west bank of the Dnieper river earlier this month were entrenching themselves in the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions during the 39th week of the war, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence Major-General Vadym Skibitskyi, told the Kyiv Post.

“[The Russians] are waiting for our liberation offensive, that’s why they have created a defensive line in Kherson, another on the administrative border of [Kherson and] Crimea, and another in the northern Crimea region,” Skibitskiy said.

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(Al Jazeera) © Provided by Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera)

“The enemy is on the defensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction,” said Ukraine’s general staff. “In the Kryvyi Rih and Kherson directions, the enemy is creating an echeloned defence system, improving fortification equipment and logistical support of advanced units, and not stopping artillery fire at the positions of our troops and settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro River.”

In announcing the withdrawal from Kherson city on November 9, the Russian commander-in-chief of forces in Ukraine, Alexander Surovikin, had said it would free up manpower to strengthen other fronts.

Russia has been prioritising the occupation of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east, and Russian artillery fruitlessly pounded away at Ukrainian defenders there throughout the week.

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Ukraine’s general staff said that continued to be Russia’s plan, but soldiers were resisting it.

“The command of the Russian occupying forces plans to redeploy separate units withdrawn during the retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson oblast to continue hostilities in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The mobilised persons, most of whom make up these formations, are very indignant at the prospects of the implementation of the mentioned plans,” they said.

A possible further source of Russian restraint is that Ukraine has made no secret of its intention to take back Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

To get there, it must prevail over the remaining Russian forces in Kherson or Zaporizhia, and Russia appeared to anticipate an attack there.

Skibitskiy said the timing of a counteroffensive in Crimea would depend mainly on the “weapons and munitions” Ukraine would receive from allies, but that once these were in place, troop movements could outmanoeuvre those of Russian forces.

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  Russian soldiers are surrendering to Ukrainian drones, Ukraine says Video shared by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense showed a uniformed figure walking with hands raised. The MOD said the soldier was taken into captivity.In the aerial footage, a uniformed figure can be seen walking with hands raised across grassy terrain towards another figure off-camera, visible only by their shadow.

“One area where we have some advantages over the Russian Federation is very quick movement or regrouping of forces,” he said. “For example, during the preparation for [counteroffensive] operations in Kherson region, Russian forces redeployed battalion tactical groups from Kharkiv and Donetsk to Kherson and Zaporizhia for a month,” he said.

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine's south © Provided by Al Jazeera INTERACTIVE- Ukraine's south

“If the Ukrainians continue to fight the methodical, logistically centric war that they have so far, then their next move will probably to try and extend the range of their weapons to fully separate Russian forces into completely unsupported zones,” said Phillips O’Brien, who teaches strategy at the University of St Andrews.

That means driving a wedge through Zaporizhia to the Sea of Azov, cutting off Russian forces in Kherson and Crimea from those in Donetsk and Luhansk, he said.

Despite the mobilisation of 300,000 conscripts in September and October, Russia appears short of manpower – possibly because it cannot adequately equip those forces.

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  UN reviewing video of captured Russian soldiers who appear to have been killed at close range, NYT reports The United Nations is reviewing reports that Ukrainian soldiers may have executed 10 Russian prisoners of war. Videos reviewed by The New York Times appear to show Russian soldiers were killed at close range. War crimes have been reported against both Russia and Ukraine since Russia's unprovoked invasion. The United Nations is reviewing reports that Ukrainians may have executed 10 Russian prisoners of war after videos authenticated by The New York Times appear to show a line of Russian soldiers that had been killed at close range.

Ukraine’s general staff said Russia was preparing legislation to conscript men in occupied parts of Ukraine next year, and was continuing to recruit prisoners in Russia.

They also said the Wagner group, which is credited with some Russian successes in the Bakhmut area over the past months, was enlisting mercenaries among factory workers in Belgorod.

“According to the agreement with the management of the Oskol electrometallurgical plant, workers of draft age will be involved in military training at the base of the ‘Wagner’ PMC for a period of 30 days with retention of wages … Upon completion, participants will be asked to sign a contract with a private military [unit],” the staff said.

Covert mobilisation was also continuing in Crimea, said the staff.

“In the city of Simferopol, on November 19, a meeting was held with the participation of the so-called heads of ‘law enforcement agencies’ with representatives of the city administration and heads of village councils. The main issue was the non-fulfilment of the determined quantitative indicators of mobilisation. From November 21, representatives of the so-called ‘military commissariats’ and the ‘police’ in the mentioned temporarily occupied territory started handing out summonses.”

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  Russian agents killed 3 men they said were saboteurs sent by Ukraine. A report says they were just gamers in costume. Russia's FSB took out three men who, state media reported, planned to hit Russian energy facilities. A report suggests they were just gamers.In an announcement on November 9, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered Russian forces in Kherson to retreat across the Dnieper River, marking one of the most significant setbacks for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

Winter as a weapon

Russia has continued its hybrid war against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure using Iranian drones.

Ten million Ukrainians were left without electricity after dozens of Russian drones and missiles struck energy infrastructure.

The regions of Odesa, Vinnytsia, Sumi and Kyiv were most affected, but on November 23 power outages also spread to neighbouring Moldova.

Residents gathering at an aid distribution point receive supplies in downtown Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, November 18, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP] © Provided by Al Jazeera Residents gathering at an aid distribution point receive supplies in downtown Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, November 18, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

The World Health Organization warned that these attacks against energy infrastructure mean many Ukrainians face life-threatening situations this winter, when temperatures in parts of the country are forecast to plummet to below 20C (-4F).

Two to three million Ukrainians will have to leave their homes in search of warmer shelter, said Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

“The devastating energy crisis, the deepening mental health emergency, constraints on humanitarian access and the risk of viral infections will make this winter a formidable test for the Ukrainian health system and the Ukrainian people,” Kluge said.

“Russia’s deliberate cruelty only deepens our resolve to uphold Ukraine’s fundamental right to defend itself and defend the rules-based international order,” said US defence secretary Lloyd Austin after chairing the seventh Contact Group of countries donating military aid to Ukraine. Ukraine temperatures © Provided by Al Jazeera Ukraine temperatures

Hours before Russia’s barrage of attacks on Wednesday, in a largely symbolic political move, the European Parliament declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” for these drone attacks, with 494 legislators voting in favour, 58 against and 44 abstaining.

“The deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror,” the resolution said.

Looking ahead, Friday will mark 10 months of war. As the cold sets in, Russian President Putin is hoping Ukraine’s resolve will freeze – an unlikely scenario given the fight so far.

Russia raised a record $13.6 billion in one day as the cost of Vladimir Putin's war with Ukraine keeps mounting .
Russia sold more debt on November 16 to help pay for the ongoing invasion of its neighbor, according to British defence intelligence.In an announcement on November 9, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered Russian forces in Kherson to retreat across the Dnieper River, marking one of the most significant setbacks for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

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