Ukrainian forces hit Russian base in occupied Melitopol
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Vladimir Putin’s army appears to be on the brink of another humiliating retreat in southern Ukraine, according to new reports. The Russian President has seen his army take a battering in recent months, as Ukraine’s commanders unleashed devastating counterattacks in the northeast and south of the country. Ukraine’s army routed Russian forces during the Kharkiv counteroffensive in September.
Further ignominy was soon to follow, as Russia’s commanders abandoned the strategically important port city of Kherson in early November.
Kherson had been the only regional capital that the Russians had managed to capture in ten months of brutal fighting.
In total, Putin’s army has lost over 70,000 square kilometres of occupied territory since it abandoned its attempt in spring to capture Kyiv.
Now, new reports emerging over the weekend suggest that Russia’s top military brass are contemplating yet another morale-crushing withdrawal of their troops in southern Ukraine.
According to local residents in and around the city of Nova Kakhova, Russian soldiers have been spreading rumours of an imminent withdrawal.
Ukraine’s General Staff noted in its Saturday bulletin that individual Russian army units were being redeployed from the area.
They said: “The enemy redeploys individual units and withdraws part of its troops from Kakhovka and Nova Kakhovka of the Kherson oblast to the area of the settlement of Nyzhni Sirohozy.
“Among local residents, servicemen are spreading information that Kakhovka will be abandoned by Russian troops by the end of this year.
“Therefore, locals loyal to the occupiers are being offered a move to the temporarily occupied Ukrainian Crimea.”
Nova Kakhova is the site of a strategic dam and hydroelectric power station, which has been controlled by Russian forces since the spring.
The Russians have opened a side sluice gate to restore flows of irrigation water to Crimea, which they illegally annexed in 2014.
Moscow has threatened to blow up the dam, which would unleash a devastating tidal wave of water that potentially could wipe out 80 cities and kill thousands of citizens.
Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defence Minister, said any attempt to destroy the dam would be “crazy” and self-defeating for the Russians.
He pointed out that such a move would flood areas controlled by Russia and also cut off their access to fresh water, via a canal from the Dnipro River to occupied Crimea.
He said: “If you check the landscape in this district, you will find that the western bank is higher terrain and the east bank is lower terrain.
“This means the water will flow east of this bank and they will create risks for their troops.”
Russian occupation officials left Nova Kakhova towards the end of November, fuelling rumours that a withdrawal was in the offing.
Ukraine’s Centre for National Resistance said that not only Russian officials but also Ukrainian collaborators had fled the city.
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A spokesperson said: “It is not only about those who held positions in the occupation administration, but also those who took part in joint raids with the Russians against the local population, intimidated and forced the residents to cooperate.
“All active traitors left the city because they feel that his release is a matter of time.”
The spokesperson urged locals to leave the city until its liberation by Ukraine’s army.
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