Et is only a month and a half since Russia’s president celebrated the annexation of four more Ukrainian territories. Residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia will be “our citizens forever,” he said Wladimir Putin during the connection ceremony in the Kremlin. With the four heads of the occupiers he chanted “Rossiya”, Russia. Afterwards, at a so-called demonstration concert in Red Square, Putin promised to do “everything” to support “our brothers and sisters” in the annexed territories. “The victory will be ours!”
Even then there were doubts. The regional capital, Zaporizhia, was only accessible to Russian missiles. In the Kherson region, the Ukrainians made progress. It is now becoming apparent that Putin’s “everything” is not enough to hold the only regional capital that his invading troops have been able to recapture since the end of February. Putin left the announcement of the retreat to the southern bank of the Dnipro River to his subordinates on Wednesday.
State television showed the commander of the invading forces, Sergei Surovikin, with a report for Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu. Surovikin first reported successes, a “stabilized situation”, repelled attacks, high losses of the enemy. Only then did he describe the situation on the north bank of the Dnieper as hopeless and suggested retreating to spare the lives of the soldiers. “Agreed,” Shoygu said.
The decision is not just military tactics. “Russia is here forever,” announced Andrei Turchak, Secretary General of the powerful United Russia party, during a visit to Kherson in early May. Putin himself made it clear in June that he considers it his mission to close off Ukrainian territories like Kherson Russia “to bring back”. At the beginning of November, the exiled Russian news portal “Medusa” reported, citing those close to the Kremlin, that the surrender of Cherson was “the probable but undesirable scenario”. Ultimately, Putin must decide.
Putin visits brain researchers
This obviously also included the fact that Shojgu and Surovikin had to embody the decision. Commander-in-Chief Putin, meanwhile, was being shown around a “brain and neurotechnology center” in Moscow by people in white coats. In addition, Putin signed a decree on “Principles of State Policy for the Preservation and Strengthening of Traditional Russian Spiritual and Moral Values”.
Events in Cherson only caught up with him in the evening: Kirill Stremousov, a leading collaborator in the area, had died. A traffic accident, they said. Stremusov’s armored car is said to have collided with a truck between Kherson and Crimea in Russian-held territory. The wreckage of the car and blood on the asphalt were shown, but no truck.
Stremoussow must have known a lot about the occupation and had a changeable CV. He once sold fish feed, then tried his hand at Cherson as a pro-Russian blogger and politician. After the invasion, he became the deputy head of the occupation administration, constantly appeared on Russian state television. Stremossuov was also present at Putin’s annexation ceremony, albeit not on the stage. Now Putin posthumously awarded him the “Order of Courage”.
From Cherson to Napoleon
The president did not comment on the announced task of Cherson on Thursday either, devoting himself to day-to-day business. Putin’s spokesman only confirmed that the president would not travel to Bali for the G-20 summit. Hardly anyone had expected that. Meanwhile, Putin’s staff tried to justify the withdrawal decision. Andrei Turchak wrote on Telegram that “our boys” in Kherson were threatened “to be torn from supplies at any moment”.