Kremlin Still Claims Kherson Even As Russian Troops Abandon Major Port City

Kremlin Still Claims Kherson Even As Russian Troops Abandon Major Port City

The Russian army pulled out of the region around the city of Kherson overnight on Thursday, leaving behind army uniforms, stockpiles of ammunition, and a local populace cheering the arrival of Ukrainian forces in the street. The New York Times reported from the front lines yesterday that the Russian military has left the small village of Blahodatne, located on the strategic M14 main highway leading to Mykolaiv, another port city on the Pivdennnyi Buh about 60 miles west of Kherson. Ukraine has held Mykolaiv for some time but has not held Blahodatne or any of the other villages to the west and north of Kherson.

The Russian defense ministry announced in Moscow this morning that the retreat of all Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnipro River was complete. The Times, which has a photographer and at least two reporters on the scene, reported that the Russians are setting up new defensive positions on the east bank of the Dnipro and were beginning to shell Ukrainian military units advancing on Kherson on the west bank of the river.

The Times reporters, Andrew E. Kramer and Marc Santora, wrote that they had spoken by phone to residents of Kherson this morning who told them that “While there was no visible Russian military presence in the city on Friday, four residents described seeing Russian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes — some armed — moving about parts of the city.”

“Kherson is returning under the control of Ukraine. Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are entering the city,” the intelligence directorate of Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a statement released in Kyiv on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Putin’s government appeared to still be laying claim to Kherson. “Kherson region is a subject of the Russian Federation. This status is fixed,” Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, announced. “There can be no changes here.”

Reports from the front lines in Kherson indicate that Peskov should probably consult the local residents, who continued to greet advancing Ukrainian troops waving the distinctive blue and yellow national flag of Ukraine. The Russian defense ministry spokesman in Moscow appeared just as deluded. “Not a single piece of military equipment and weaponry was left … and there were no losses of personnel, weapons, equipment,” a defense ministry spokesman said.

Below is a photograph of a warehouse in Blahodatne that was part of a Russian military base there. The photo was taken by Lynsey Addario of the New York Times on Friday morning. It shows stacks of ammunition boxes and rows of what appear to be 82 mm mortar rounds lying on the ground. That is Russian ammunition. Those are Ukrainian troops walking through the warehouse examining their find.

Ukrainian soldiers in weapons depot captured from Russians in Blahodatne, Ukraine on November 11, 2022Photo by Lynsey Addario/New York Times

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission fromLucian Truscott Newsletter


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