By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Footage emerged of jubilant crowds welcoming Ukrainian troops in Kherson after months of occupation.
It meant a major military setback for Moscow in an armed conflict that is now believed to have claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Moscow withdrew all Russian troops from Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson on Friday. They reportedly moved across the Dnipro river to the eastern bank early in the morning.
Their withdrawal came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Ukrainian forces had also retaken dozens of towns and villages as they advanced toward Kherson.
Moscow said that no military equipment or weapons were left behind in the area, despite concerns in Kyiv that much of the city has been destroyed and mined by Russian forces.
Footage appeared to show that a bridge used by Russian troops to evacuate had been destroyed.
Kherson was the only regional capital captured by Russia since its invasion began on February 24.
But a Kremlin spokesperson denied the withdrawal was a significant blow or humiliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, the war has come at a huge price: the United States’ most senior general said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left around 100,000 Russian troops and 100,000 Ukrainian forces dead or wounded.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that Europe’s largest armed conflict since World War Two had also killed about 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and displaced 15 to 30 million people.
Yet, with the death toll rising and the coming cold months in the region complicating fighting, the general sees an opportunity for both sides to consider peace talks. “In Ukraine, there is a significant war. There is a lot of suffering going on. A lot of casualties on both sides and a lot of damage to the economy. A lot of refugees. And this war has been going ok for quite a while. We are in our 8th, 9th month,” he noticed in an interview.
However, “It is a war that didn’t need to happen; it is a geopolitical mistake on the part of Russia. They attacked a country that was no threat to Russia. And yet their military is being beaten on the battlefield,” the general told CNBC television.
“You are seeing the withdrawal of forces out of Kherson, and you’ve seen the Ukrainian military fighting the Russian military to a standstill,” he added.
“And I know what the future holds is not known with any degree of certainty. But we think there are some possibilities here for some diplomatic solutions. So we’ll see where that leads us,” General Milley stressed.
Pope Francis had earlier repeatedly called for an end to the war.
The pontiff acknowledged that the Vatican has held behind-the-scenes talks with leaders on both sides.
He said he prayed for peace and had a “great affection for the Russian and Ukrainian people.”
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