A Ukrainian official has pointed out what the Russian withdrawal from Kherson means for Ukraine, assessing that “this is a chance to get closer to Crimea”.
Ukraine’s southern region was annexed by Russia in 2014, and Ukraine has expressed hopes of retaking it in a counteroffensive.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said the withdrawal from the right bank of the Dnipro River would also have major implications for those in Odesa and the breakaway Moldovan territory of Transnistria.
Meanwhile, while Russia has insisted for some time that it is keen to enter into negotiations with Ukraine, news of its imminent withdrawal from Kherson casts the latest statements in a different – and potentially more significant – light.
“The Russian Federation is ready to negotiate with Ukraine, taking into account the realities that are developing at the moment,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The announcement came shortly before Russian generals said forces would withdraw from Kherson, a city that Vladimir Putin had annexed just five weeks ago.
However, while skepticism will remain about Ms Zakharova’s latest comments, there is at least the possibility that they reflect a truer willingness by Moscow to end its disastrous occupation.
While a hopeful statement also comes from the Secretary of Defense of the United Kingdom, Ben Wallace, who has told Ukrainian soldiers that Russia is “slowly losing” the war against their country.
During a visit to the Lydd army camp in Kent, where Ukrainian volunteers are being trained to fight in the conflict, he also said Russia had been an “active adversary” of the UK for several years.