On November 9, 2022, Russia’s supreme commander in Ukraine Sergei Surovikin appeared in a joint broadcast with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to explain the rationale for withdrawing from Kherson City. Surovikin explained that Russia could not defend the city and it was advisable to extricate the Russian garrison because Russia unlike Ukraine placed a premium on its soldiers’ lives:
“Comrade Secretary of Defense [Shoigu]! Allow me to report. We are successfully resisting all enemy offensive attempts. During hostilities occurred in the period from August to October the Armed Forces of Ukraine [hereafter – the ZSU] has more than 9.5 thousand servicemen killed and wounded; Ukraine’s army losses in equipment are as follows: more than 200 tanks, 500 armored combat vehicles, about 600 vehicles of various purposes and more than 50 artillery guns and mortars.
As you know, the offensive side suffers more casualties than the defensive side. In this case our losses are 7-8 times less than that of the enemy. We care first and foremost about the lives of every Russian serviceman.
The enemy attacks local government bodies, schools, hospitals, other socially important facilities, as well as civilians, who are being evacuated to the other side of the Dnipro River, and points of humanitarian aid distribution…
We successfully repel these attacks. About 80-90% of the missiles are being shot down by Russian air defense. Meanwhile, up to 20% of them still reach their targets. The Russian engineering detachments are restoring the Dnipro crossings almost daily and are taking measures to maintain them in working order.
Under these conditions, the city of Kherson, as well as suburbs cannot be fully supplied and continue to function. People’s lives are in constant danger due to the shelling. The enemy indiscriminately shells the city; prohibited methods of warfare may be used…
Comrade Secretary of Defense! Having comprehensively assessed the current situation, it’s being proposed to entrench along the left bank of the Dnipro river. I realize that this is a very difficult decision. Meanwhile, we will be preserving the most important thing: the lives of our soldiers and the overall combat capability of the group of armies. It’s imprudent to maintain them on the right bank in the restricted area. In addition, it will free up some forces and means that will be deployed for active operations, including that of offensive character, in other directions of the Special Military Operation.”
Shoigu approved the redeployment and the abandonment of Kherson city.
This decision provoked fury from some of the war’s most ardent supporters including the ideologues such as Aleksander Dugin and Aleksander Prokhanov as well as persistent critics of Russia’s performance in Ukraine like Roman Skomorokhov. They viewed the decision as a surrender and abandonment of allies whom Russia had pledged not to abandon.