November 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Amy Woodyatt, Kathleen Magramo, Andrew Raine, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022
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3:29 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Ukraine says it is pushing front line back as officials warn of Russian scorched-earth tactics

From CNN's Mick Krever, Anna Chernova and Tim Lister

A Ukrainian servicewoman fires a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun at a position on the frontline in Kherson region, Ukraine, on November 9.
A Ukrainian servicewoman fires a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun at a position on the frontline in Kherson region, Ukraine, on November 9. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

Ukraine’s military said it had retaken swathes of territory in Kherson on Thursday after Moscow ordered a partial withdrawal from the area, though officials in Kyiv warned that retreating Russian soldiers could turn the regional capital into a “city of death” on their way out.

A military spokesperson said that in just 24 hours, Ukrainian forces had pushed the front line in the key southern region of Kherson forward by 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) and taken control of more than 260 square kilometers of territory (100 square miles). Kyiv said it took control of the towns of Snihurivka and Kyselivka, both of which sit along key roads leading into Kherson city, the regional capital. Kyselivka is located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) away from Kherson city.

Moscow on Wednesday said its troops would withdraw from the west bank of the Dnipro River, an area that includes Kherson city, in one of the biggest military setbacks for Russia since its invasion began. A spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry said that effort began the following day.

Officials in Kyiv, however, have treated the announcement with skepticism. Kherson is one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia attempted to annex in violation of international law, and some doubt that Moscow would give up fighting for a territory filled with people that Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed would be Russian citizens “forever.”

Ukrainian officials are also concerned that the Russian military will embrace scorched-earth tactics and leave behind a trail of devastation in the wake of their withdrawal. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, alleged Thursday that Russia “wants to turn Kherson into a ‘city of death.’”

Ukrainian military spokesperson Vladyslav Nazarov said Russian forces were continuing to shell areas recaptured by the Ukrainian military and attempted to strike humanitarian aid distribution points.

However, signs of the retreat have begun to emerge. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Washington had seen the “beginnings” of a Russian withdrawal in Kherson. Satellite imagery taken last week of Russian-occupied Crimea showed trenches being dug near the border with Kherson, a possible sign that Russian military leaders are nervous about the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

3:30 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Zelensky says more than 41 settlements in southern Ukraine have been liberated

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 41 settlements in southern Ukraine have been liberated following the Russian decision to withdraw to the eastern side of the Dnipro river.

"Today we have good news from the south — the number of Ukrainian flags returning to their rightful place in the framework of the ongoing defense operation is already reaching dozens. Forty-one settlements have been liberated," Zelensky said.

Zelensky used his daily video address to congratulate several units involved in the advance through the southern Kherson region.

He added, "Everything that is happening now has been achieved through months of fierce struggle. Achieved by courage, pain and losses. It is not the enemy that is leaving. It is Ukrainians who are chasing the occupiers at great cost."

Zelensky said police units had moved into several settlements in Kherson, but the liberation of Ukrainian territory was just the first step in a long process.

The first and basic thing is de-mining. The occupiers leave behind thousands of mines and unexploded ammunition. I have often heard estimates that clearing Ukraine of Russian mines will take decades. We cannot wait that long," the Ukrainian president said.

"The invaders mine everything: power lines, business enterprises, fields, forests," he said. "At the peak of mine contamination in Ukraine, we had 300,000 square kilometers of life-threatening territory."

Now, he said, thanks to the efforts of sappers, "there are about 170,000 square kilometers left for de-mining. In particular, this is in the most difficult places – where the fighting is still ongoing, where the enemy will add more mines before its withdrawal, as it is now in Kherson."

Zelensky thanked the dozen countries assisting in de-mining. He also alluded to Ukraine's goals in the conflict.

"We have to go all the way — on the battlefield and in diplomacy — so that our flags, Ukrainian flags, and never again any enemy tricolors are on our entire land, within our internationally recognized border," he said.

Zelensky also thanked the Netherlands and the United States for fresh infusions of aid — about $100 million from the Netherlands and a new package of military assistance from the US. "Important means of air defense. Just what we need, what we asked for," he said