On Monday (November 13), Russian media initially reported the withdrawal of Russian military forces from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River to “more favorable positions.” However, this information was retracted within minutes.
Two prominent Russian news agencies reported and later retracted the reports.
State news agencies Tass and RIA-Novosti said Russia had repositioned troops to positions east of the Dnipro River, in order to “free up some of its forces, which will be used for offensive operations in other areas”.
While Moscow blamed the highly unusual incident on Ukraine, Kyiv claimed it was a Russian disinformation campaign.
The ‘false report’ came exactly a year after Russia withdrew its forces from the right bank of the river, including from the city of Kherson. It must be noted that the Dnipro River continues to separate Russian and Ukrainian forces on the battleground.
Escalation by Ukrainian forces
Under its so-called counter-offensive, Ukraine has of late escalated its attacks on Russian forces across the Dnipro River.
The prime objective of this mission is to dismantle Russia’s ‘land bridge’ to the Crimean Peninsula, which has been under Russia’s control since 2014.
Russia earlier on Friday (Nov 10) claimed it foiled an attack by Ukraine that attempted to build a makeshift landing position in the region, which the Ukrainian military could have used to bring in heavy equipment and additional personnel.
Zelensky warns of winter assault by Russia
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, warned that the country should prepare for more attacks on its infrastructure this winter.
Last winter, Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, causing significant damage and leaving many people without heating and power. The damage to Ukraine’s energy sector was estimated at $6.8 billion.
“We are almost halfway through November and we must be prepared for the possibility that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes against our infrastructure,” Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday (Nov 12).
In response to these threats, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister has called for increased military aid, faster implementation of sanctions against Russia, and a decision on starting negotiations for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.
While the European Commission recommended talks with Ukraine about joining the EU, the Foreign Minister criticised the bloc for not discussing new sanctions against Russia as planned.