US has intelligence Russia may have factored midterms into timing of Kherson announcement: report

New intelligence indicates Russia may have factored the U.S. midterm elections into its recent withdrawal of troops from occupied Kherson in Ukraine, CNN reports.

According to CNN, Russian officials brought up the midterms in talks about when to announce their retreat from the strategic city, and may have delayed the announcement to avoid giving the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress material ahead of the midterms. 

Russia pulled its troops out of Kherson, located at the mouth of the Black Sea, after eight months of occupation, just weeks after Putin moved to annex the area and amid recent battlefield setbacks. 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the retreat last Wednesday.

“I found it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgement, which we knew for some time that they were going to be doing.  And it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems — Russian — the Russian military,” Biden said after the announcement. 

The CNN report notes that the midterms weren’t Russia’s only consideration as it prepared to announce the withdrawal, but that it was a factor — though Russia may have overestimated how influential their announcement could be on the midterms. 

The fact that the midterms were a factor at all, though, indicates that Russia may be hoping a Republican-led Congress or administration would be less critical of Moscow and less supportive of Ukraine.

Biden on Monday called the Russian retreat from Kherson a “significant victory for Ukraine” and reaffirmed that the U.S. is “going to continue to provide the capability for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves.”

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