Defense expert Rainer Saks said that Russians pulling out of Kherson Oblast would rule out further attacks on Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kryvyi Rih.
"There is reason for optimism," Saks told "Aktuaalne kaamera" news on Wednesday, commenting on Russia withdrawing from Kherson.
"We had cause for optimism back in spring when Ukrainian forces pushed the Russians out from the surrounding areas of Kyiv. Russian troops have now started pulling out of Kherson, which process will take some time," Saks suggested.
"What the [Russian] media showed us today was strategic communications cover for the retreat. It was hinted at a few weeks ago, and the defense minister now gave the withdrawal his blessing. They want an organized retreat and to avoid a scenario where Ukrainian units would succeed in cutting Russian forces on the western bank off or surrounding them. This could lead to major losses."
"The retreat started when Ukrainian forces managed to break through the Russian front line in a couple of places yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon, which put a collapse near at hand. The Russians are trying to forestall a military defeat," Saks said.
If Russian forces fall back over the Dnieper, they will not cross it again in this war," Saks said. "That much is clear. Forget about attacks on Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kryvyi Rih or attempts to threaten Kyiv from the south," he remarked.
He said that the withdrawal will take several weeks unless it turns into a collapse. "If Russia can slow down Ukrainian forces – and they have not made major progress today – the Russians will get the chance to pull a few battle worthy units out of there."
The commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, said live on Russian television on Wednesday that Russian troops will leave the western bank of the Dnieper, Ukrainska Pravda reported. According to Ria Novosti, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu agreed with Surovikin.
Editor: Marcus Turovski