Russian troops are withdrawing from the strategically important Cherson. Instructions for this are provided by a checklist from Putin’s administration. The withdrawal could also point to new negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

Live on TV, Sergey Surovikin, Russian army general and commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, announced the withdrawal from Kherson. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu confirmed the decision.

Of course, the Russian attackers are trying to sell this withdrawal to the public as a positive and topical decision. “Our losses on the front in Kherson are seven to eight times less than the enemy’s. The decision to withdraw from Kherson was not easy, but it will protect the lives of Russian soldiers and strengthen our combat capability,” Surovikin said.

But according to the Russian newspaper Meduza, which is critical of the Kremlin, there were already plans for this retreat in October. Meduza is now operating from Latvia because of the persecution of journalists critical of the government in Russia, but still has contacts in the Kremlin.

These contacts now confirmed to Meduza the existence of a veritable “checklist” for its own withdrawal propaganda. The list was created in the Kremlin and calls for Ukraine to be portrayed as “manipulative and bloodthirsty” and that one therefore wants to save the lives of civilians and soldiers.

Surovikin adhered exactly to the points on the checklist, as the statement mentioned shows. The Kremlin is aware that the Russian population, which supports the war, would view the withdrawal “very negatively,” writes Meduza. According to the Kremlin’s calculations, the emphasis on the heroism of Russian soldiers, whose lives must be protected, could appease any critics.

“When members of your family, your close friends or even distant acquaintances are fighting, you see such military actions differently,” a source told Meduza reporters. Another Kremlin insider explains that the withdrawal in Kherson is also a preparation for further negotiations with Ukraine.

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Accordingly, these negotiations will not take place “in the near future”. Should it come to that, it would not be a peace treaty but a temporary ceasefire that would be discussed. According to Meduza, the Kremlin believes that the negotiations could take place without Putin and Zelenskyy.

According to insiders, however, Putin is still convinced that Ukraine must at least accept Donbas and Crimea as Russian territory. At best, all other areas occupied by Russia should also be recognized accordingly.