Ukrainian troops prepare to retake city that Russian leaders say they abandoned
Russia's military said Friday it had completed its withdrawal from Kherson.
Ukrainian forces are poised to reclaim a major city in southern Ukraine after Russia's military said it completed its withdrawal from the country's only Russian-held provincial capital.
Russia's Defense Ministry said Friday that its withdrawal from Kherson and across the Dnipro River was completed, Reuters reported.
"The transfer of Russian troop units to the left bank of the Dnipro River has been completed," the ministry said in a statement. "Not a single unit of military equipment or weapons have been left on the right [western] bank. All Russian servicemen crossed to the left bank."
The statement added that Russia had not suffered any loss of personnel or equipment during the withdrawal.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, had ordered troops to leave Kherson earlier this week in a pullout that allows Ukrainian forces to move closer to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
"It will be possible to talk about establishing Ukrainian control over the city only after an official report by the General Staff" of the Ukrainian army, Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, told the Associated Press.
Videos and photos posted to social media showed residents of Kherson celebrating in the streets and a Ukrainian flag flying over a monument in a central square for the first time since the city was seized in early March, the AP noted.
Should Ukrainian forces retake Kherson, it could act a springboard for further advancements into Russian-occupied territory.
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