Swiftly-deleted Kremlin state media reports that Russian forces would “regroup” its forces in the Kherson region may have been part of an ill-conceived information operation, Western analysts have said.

Russia currently faces a challenging situation in the region as Ukrainian forces have managed to establish and hold a significant bridgehead on the left bank of Dnipro River in the Kherson region.

Kyiv’s nearly month-old presence was still holding fast last week with the two sides trading air, mortar and artillery strikes.

“Having assessed the situation, the command of the Dnipro group decided to move the troops to more advantageous positions east of the Dnipro,” the Russian media outlets TASS and RIA Novosti wrote on Monday

Similar language had been used to announce previous Russian troop retreats in the wake of Ukrainian attacks last year from parts of the Kharkiv and Kherson regions that Russia had occupied at the beginning of its February 2022 Ukraine invasion.

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“After the regrouping of Dnipro, part of the forces will be released, which will be used for the offensive in other directions,” RIA Novosti had written.

But the announcement was swiftly retracted from both sites. The news outlets wrote that their earlier reports were “issued by mistake.”

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) posited two possible reasons for the bizarre error – firstly, that the reports could reflect thinking and discussions in the Russian military leadership that “prematurely entered the information space before being officially released.”

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It added: “The suggestion that two high-ranking military commanders would have a discussion on reallocating Russian forces away from a certain sector of the front to another is not outlandish or improbable.”

The ISW also proposed a second possibility – the false reports were deliberately released by the Kremlin in order to confuse and deceive Ukraine’s forces about the strength of Russian forces in the area.

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But it added that if this is the case, it’s unlikely to be an effective strategy.

“Ukrainian forces are very unlikely to make any operational-level decisions based on limited media reports of a Russian regrouping, however, and if the reports are a part of an information operation, they will likely fail to deceive the Ukrainian command,” it added.

Ukraine’s National Resistance Center came to a similar conclusion on Monday, saying it had not seen any evidence of Russian troop movements in the area, adding: “Thus, we can conclude that an information operation against Ukraine is currently underway.”

Officially at least, the Kremlin – unlike Russian milbloggers – has declined to comment about the Ukrainian army achieving a key goal of its counteroffensive – crossing over to the east side of the Dnipro River.

“We do not comment on the course of the special military operation itself, that is the prerogative of our specialists, our military,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, as reported by AFP.

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