Russia has withdrawn some officers and medics from around the annexed city of Kherson as fears of a major Ukrainian offensive grow, said The Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Moscow is in retreat across the Dnipro River in anticipation of an advance of Ukrainian troops on the regional capital, the US-based think tank said on Sunday.
“Russian forces continued to withdraw from western Kherson Oblast while preparing to conduct delaying actions that will likely be only partially effective,” concluded the ISW, in a Russian Offensive Campaign assessment, on Saturday.
The think tank, quoting the Ukrainian General Staff, stated that officers and medics had been evacuated from Beryslav, a city northeast of Kherson.
It added that two thousand newly mobilized, inexperienced forces had reportedly been left to hold the frontline to delay the Ukrainian advance as the Russians completed its withdrawal.
If the assessment proves correct, the ISW warned of a rout by Ukrainian forces. “Russia’s poorly trained, newly mobilized reservists are very unlikely to stand and resist a Ukrainian counterattack if Ukrainian forces chose to attack them and chase the withdrawing forces,” it said.
The ISW also quoted a Russian milblogger – a blogger serving in the military – who noted on October 21 that Russian forces “will receive bad news from Kherson Oblast” in the coming week and that “November will be very, very hard.”
A war correspondent told Russian state-controlled television on October 19 that Ukrainian forces outnumber Russian troops by four to one and that “severe territorial losses are likely in these two months, but defeat in one battle does not mean losing the war,” reported the ISW.
Kherson, which had a prewar population of 280,000, is the only regional capital to be captured by Russian forces.
In the last week, Moscow has ordered residents to leave ahead of the expected counteroffensive by Ukraine, evacuating tens of thousands of civilians across to the left bank of the Dnipro river or the eastern side.
Boats were commissioned to transport people across the water, and ferry service across the Dnipro river was being sped up, Russian state media reported.
On Saturday, The UK Ministry of Defense said that Russian forces had built a barge bridge alongside the damaged Antonovskiy bridge in Kherson and forecasted it would become a critical crossing point for retreating Russian forces.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) October 23, 2022
The ISW also said that Russian forces are removing patients from the Kakhovka Hospital on the Dnipro’s left bank to clear space for anticipated Russian casualties.
The reported Russian retreat comes amidst reports of Putin’s military faltering in Ukraine, losing momentum, men, and equipment. Reports say that newly-mobilized troops have been provided with little training or equipment.
Bethany Dawson is a junior news reporter on the UK news team based in London at Insider, where this first appeared. She holds a BSc in Politics and Sociology and was previously a freelance journalist for publications such as The Independent, the BBC, The Times, VICE, Refinery29, Private Eye, The Big Issue, and more.