Russian troops have resorted to stealing motorboats from local residents as they seek to escape Ukraine’s major counteroffensive near the city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said Friday.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that several Russian units near Kherson have been cut off from the main Russian force and are running out of food and water. Russian forces have attempted to resupply those stranded units with covert nighttime operations using stolen civilian vehicles, Ukrainian officials said, to avoid detection.
Those Russian troops also have reportedly been given instructions to try to steal boats from local residents and escape across the Dnipro River.
“A number of units of the occupying army in the Kherson region has received an order to retreat the personnel to the left bank of the Dnipro, by using small watercrafts — motorboats stolen in surrounding villages,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website Friday.
Pentagon officials couldn’t confirm those reports but said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is taking a significant toll on the Russian force.
“We saw the Russians fleeing over the border in some locations. And of course, [there are] the reports of low morale, logistics issues, sustainment challenges,” Air Force Brig Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon spokesman, told reporters at a Friday briefing.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has already captured several strategically vital cities, including Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine. Fighting continues around Kherson, where Moscow has installed a pro-Russian administration to control the occupied city.