Ukraine: Russian soldier reveals burning of munitions in Kherson
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Russia appears to be “blowing up and burning ammunition” supplies in the southern port city of Kherson ahead of a seminal battle for the region. In an intercepted call between a soldier of the Donetsk People’s Republic and his mother, the man suggests that Russians across the southern front line are “destroying” supplies in an attempt to prevent Ukrainian Armed Forces, who are quickly encircling Kherson, from stealing them. The DPR soldier admitted that Russia is “surrendering 60 kilometres” of land, referring to an evacuation of Kherson, before expressing frustration at the move, calling it “complete idiocy” given his forces had “already abandoned 150 km” worth of land.
The DPR soldier said: “I think, soon, we will be getting out of here.” His mother said: “Is it that bad?”
The soldier said: “It seems that the Russians will be abandoning all of this.” His mother said: “Are you sure? You sure they will not forget you there?”
The DPR soldier said: “Who knows. Today, we were burning ammunition. All munitions burned down. It was sparkling, flashing, I cannot even explain it.
“Elsewhere, they are also blowing up and burning ammunition. Basically, they are destroying the ammunition.
“What sort of drivel is this? Explain this logic to me: surrendering 60 kilometres, and then trying to knock them out of here again. I just do not know. This is complete idiocy. We already abandoned 100 km, maybe 150 km, and another 60 km to abandon.”
Reports of troops abandoning the city have come with a caution from Ukraine that these stories could have been planted to lure the advancing soldiers into a trap.
Tens of thousands of civilians have already left the regional capital after being ordered to evacuate the area in October.
The order came after Ukrainian Armed Forces retook around 88 settlements in the region, or around 13 percent of territory previously held by Russian forces.
Authorities also removed the Russian flag from the Kherson administration building last Thursday, a week after the regional government moved out.
Coupled with reports of soldiers burning ammunition, the information suggests that Russia has decided to cede the territory despite its strategic importance.
But a daily update from Ukraine’s presidential office on Monday said that Russian soldiers in plainclothes have been moving into apartments in Kherson that civilians had left during the evacuation.
One Kherson resident said that Russian military personnel were going door to door, checking property deeds and forcing tenants to leave immediately if they can’t prove ownership of apartments.
Ukraine’s southern military spokeswoman, Natalia Humeniuk, also told Ukrainian television last week that some Russian military personnel were disguising themselves as civilians.
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And last month, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that occupying Russian forces in the Kherson region had been purposefully shutting off electricity and water and depriving the population of internet access in order to force them to evacuate.
Ms Humeniuk also said the removal of the flag from the administrative building could be a ruse “and we should not hurry to rejoice”.
Whether the Russian forces have been withdrawing forces or not, the city of Kherson is of vital importance to the war effort for both sides.
If Ukraine regains control, Russia’s ability to restock its forces with weapons and military reservists would be considerably hampered.
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