Russian authorities prepare information conditions to justify retreat from Kherson Oblast – ISW

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Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and significant territorial losses in Kherson Oblast, the Institute for Study of War reported.

“Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Sergey Surovikin reported during an appearance on Russian television that the Russian military leadership has to make “difficult decisions” regarding Kherson Oblast and accused Ukraine of planning to strike civilian and residential infrastructure in Kherson Oblast.

Kherson Occupation Head Vladimir Saldo relatedly noted that his administration is evacuating the west bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of a “large-scale” Ukrainian offensive.

Surovikin‘s and Saldo’s statements are likely attempts to set information conditions for a full Russian retreat across the Dnipro River, which would cede Kherson City and other significant territory in Kherson Oblast to advancing Ukrainian troops. Russian military leaders have evidently learned from previous informational and operational failures during the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast and are therefore likely attempting to mitigate the informational and operational consequences of failing to defend against another successful Ukrainian advance,” the Institute writes.

It also notes that Russian forces are also setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, likely believing that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river.

Russian military evacuates equipment out of Kherson Oblast, satellite images show

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