• On 18 October 2022, recently appointed commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, told Russian media that ‘a difficult situation has emerged’ in the Kherson area.
  • He endorsed the previously announced plans of the occupation authorities to evacuate the civilian population.
  • As the overall operational commander, Surovikin’s announcement highlighting negative news about the ‘special military operation’ is highly unusual.
  • It likely indicates that the Russian authorities are seriously considering a major withdrawal of their forces from the area west of the Dnipro river.
  • A key challenge of any Russian withdrawal operation would be extracting troops and their equipment across the 1000m wide river in good order.
  • With all the permanent bridges severely damaged, Russia would highly likely rely heavily on a temporary barge bridge it completed near Kherson in recent days, and military pontoon ferry units, which continue to operate at several locations.
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