KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia said its troops began pulling out of a strategic Ukrainian city on Thursday, a retreat that would represent a humiliating defeat in the grinding war. Ukrainian officials acknowledged Moscow’s forces had no choice but to flee but stopped short of declaring victory in Kherson.
It was difficult to know what was happening in the industrial port city, from which tens of thousands have fled in recent weeks. Some Western observers, including the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, said they believed the Kremlin’s forces have been forced to pull out — though a full withdrawal could take some time.
Ukrainian officials have warned for weeks that any announcement of a Russian retreat should be treated skeptically. They have accused Moscow of plotting to lure Ukrainian troops into an ambush and said Russian soldiers have donned civilian clothes in an effort to melt into the city’s population.