The new commander of the Moscow army in Ukraine He announced that civilians had been “resettled” from the southern Russian-occupied city of Kherson, describing the military situation as “tense.”
“The enemy is constantly trying to attack the positions of Russian forces,” Sergei Surovkin said in his first television interview since his appointment earlier this month, adding that the situation was particularly difficult around the occupied southern city of Kherson.
Surovkin’s comments on Tuesday came amid repeated military setbacks by Russian forces that have led Moscow to rely on them IranThat sends missiles and drones.
on Tuesday, and The New York Times It reported that military advisers of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were on Ukrainian territory, at a Russian military base in occupied Crimea. The Iranians were reportedly deployed to help Russian forces deal with the problems of a fleet that Tehran supplied with Shahid-136 drones, which the attackers renamed Jeeran-2.
Russian forces are trying to repel a fierce Ukrainian counterattack on Kherson, an area in the south of the country. Ukraine Which Moscow claimed it annexed last month after a sham referendum.
Surovkin admitted that the situation in Kherson “was not easy.”
Further actions and plans related to the city of Kherson will depend on the development of the military-tactical situation, which is not easy. “We will act consciously and in a timely manner without ruling out difficult decisions,” he added.
The comments seemed to be a rare acknowledgment of the difficulties facing Russian forces. But it was not immediately clear whether Surovikin The ruthless general now in charge of the warHe was hinting at an imminent Russian withdrawal from Kherson or a new round of air strikes.
Kherson, located near the mouth of the Dnipro River on the west bank, was one of the first cities to fall to Russia after the invasion on February 24 and is a crucial strategic and symbolic target for the Ukrainian government.
Heavy fighting has been reported in the region since the start of the Ukraine counter-offensive at the end of the summer, with both sides suffering heavy losses.
The Ukrainian army sought to cut off the Russian supply lines to Kherson by destroying the two main road bridges across the Dnipro. Kyiv recently introduced a news blackout in the south of the country, leading to speculation that it was preparing for a new major offensive on Kherson.
“When the Ukrainians have a news blackout, it means something is going on. They have always done it before when there is a major attack,” Michael Clarke, former director general of the Royal United Services Institute, told Sky News.
“I think in the next 48-72 hours they might tell us what’s going on,” he added.
Shortly after Sorovikin’s remarks, Vladimir Saldo, the head of Russia’s Kherson, said in a video speech that people in four towns in the Kherson region had been relocated, in anticipation of a “large-scale attack”.
Kirill Strimosov, the Russia-appointed deputy director of the Kherson region, echoed the message on Telegram late Tuesday. “The battle for Kherson will begin in the very near future. The civilian population is advised, if possible, to leave the area of the forthcoming fierce hostilities.”
Since Surovikin’s appointment on October 8, Moscow has launched a barrage of cruise missiles and “kamikaze” drones targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure as well as the civilian population.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s use of Iranian-made drones is a symbol of the Kremlin’s “military and political bankruptcy”.
“The fact of Russia’s appeal to Iran for such assistance is the Kremlin’s recognition of its military and political bankruptcy,” Zelensky said in his daily speech on Tuesday.
Over the decades, they have spent billions of dollars on their military-industrial complex. And in the end, they bowed to Tehran to secure very simple drones and missiles.”
But Zelensky added: “Strategically, it will not help them anyway. It only proves to the world that Russia is on the path to defeat and is trying to attract someone else to its partners in terror.”
The bombing is often inaccurate, and civilians have been killed in apartment buildings in Kyiv and other large cities. But enough to cause problems for a power grid that already lacks generation after the closure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Russian attacks have destroyed nearly a third of Ukraine’s power plants since Monday last week – prompting the NATO Secretary General to announce the delivery of new anti-drone defenses within days.
Last night, the energy infrastructure and energy supply were targeted in the eastern Kyiv region, where two people were killed, and in the cities of Dnipro and Zhytomyr, Kirillo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, said.
“Now the situation is critical across the country because our regions depend on each other … It is necessary that the whole country prepares for blackouts of electricity, water and heating,” Tymoshenko told Ukrainian television.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said member states would “step up” and provide more air defenses to help stabilize the situation. “NATO will in the coming days introduce anti-drone systems to counter the specific threat of drones, including those from Iran,” he said.
Although there are indications that Moscow is short of guided missiles, it has acquired as many as 2,400 Iranian drones, according to Ukraine, and is using them as cheaper alternatives to strike energy targets and sow fear among civilians.
Iran denies supplying Russia with the drones, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information on their source. “Russian equipment with Russian names is used,” Peskov said.
Experts and Western governments in Ukraine believe that the neighbors’ planes are Shahed drones, recognizable by the distinctive delta wing shape and from examining the fragments recovered from the ground.
A Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing on Tuesday, said they believed Russia was “pursuing a deliberate strategy to try to destroy Ukraine’s power grid”.
Reuters reported that Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, as well as more drones, citing senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly traveled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss how to respond to Iran’s interference, as officials made clear that a new air defense package for Ukraine was being prepared.
Germany last week delivered the first of four Iris-T air defense systems it had promised to supply to Ukraine, but the United States was wary of strengthening Ukraine’s air forces and defenses lest it be seen as an escalation.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the US House of Representatives, warned on Tuesday that Congress would not “write a blank check to Ukraine” if his party wins next month’s midterm elections.
Hours later, prominent Republican Michael McCaul said he believed the Ukrainians should “get what they need” — including long-range missiles from those the Biden administration has been willing to supply so far.
Analysts say the mixed messages reflect an internal debate between traditional national security conservatives and the party’s Trump wing, in which pro-Russia sentiment is much stronger.