The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday that it had begun to pull its troops back across the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, a day after it announced its troops would withdraw under increasing Ukrainian pressure.
"Units of the Russian grouping of troops are maneuvering to readied positions on the left bank of the Dnipro River, in strict accordance with the approved plan," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a daily press briefing.
The Defense Ministry announced it would move thousands of troops to the left bank of the Dnipro on Wednesday, as advancing Ukrainian military counteroffensives rendered Russian positions in the region's capital city Kherson untenable.
However, Kyiv said Thursday that it had yet to see any signs of a Russian retreat, suggesting that the withdrawal announcement could be a ruse.
"We can’t yet confirm or deny the information of the so-called withdrawal of Russian occupation troops from Kherson. We continue to conduct the offensive operation in line with our plan," the Ukrainian commander-in-chief, Valeriy Zaluzhny, said on the Ukrainian Army’s official Telegram channel.
Ukrainian troops advanced 7 kilometers in two directions on Thursday, recapturing 12 settlements, according to a statement by the Ukraine Armed Forces. Footage published on Thursday showed Ukrainian troops already in the city of Snihurivka, just 50 kilometers north of Kherson city.
Given that Kyiv has destroyed the bridges crossing the Dnipro in recent months, analysts have questioned Moscow’s ability to safely move 30,000 troops alongside heavy military equipment back across the river.
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on Thursday that it would take the Russian military "days and perhaps even weeks to pull those forces south of that river."