Russians are creating the illusion of retreat from Kherson to lure Ukrainian forces into street fighting in the key southern city, Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s military, said Saturday.
“Russian troops are trying hard to convince everyone they are retreating but at the same time we are seeing objective evidence that they are staying,” Humeniuk said in an interview with Ukrainian media.
“There are military units that were based there, and a lot of military equipment is stationed there, and their battle positions are set there as well. The battle positions that were set on the left bank will be used for the support of the battle positions on the right bank.”
CNN has not independently verified Humeniuk’s claims.
“We understand that Russians are trying to create an illusion of not being there in order to lure Ukrainian forces into the nearby settlements, and the settlements are usually where tough street fighting takes place,” she said.
“This is why we know, we see and we foresee what kind of narrative they are trying to feed us, and we are building up our own strategy accordingly,” Humeniuk noted.
According to Humeniuk, Russians are moving their elite units and officers to the left bank of Dnieper River, leaving the ones on the right bank no way to escape or evacuate. “They are leaving the units on the right bank to fight until their last breath,” she said.
Some background: It’s been difficult to determine the exact situation on the ground in Kherson this week.
A senior Moscow-appointed official remarked Thursday that Russian troops would “most likely” fall back from positions in the southern city. Ukrainian officials have suggested from the start that the statement could be a trap.
Russia has been evacuating citizens from the city. Moscow portrays the move as vital for public safety. Kyiv has likened the evacuations to forced relocation.
Last month, a resident described the situation in Kherson as tense, with people “emotionally exhausted,” the streets empty from mid-afternoon onwards and Russian soldiers often seen in civilian clothes.