President Volodymyr Zelensky claims his troops are moving “step by step” towards liberating Kherson in the country’s south.
Kherson city, which is situated in a crucial area west of the Dnipro river, was captured by Russia early in the conflict.
UK defence officials reported significant fighting on Saturday close to Kherson, concluding that the Russian supply lines west of the river were “increasingly at risk” as a result of the Ukrainian offensive.
Kherson inhabitants were warned to leave the city as soon as possible earlier this month by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk, to avoid getting stuck there during a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine.
She said on state television that doing so was necessary so that the Ukrainian Armed Forces wouldn’t put the civilian population in danger while conducting offensive operations, adding: “It is necessary to do so for the Armed Forces of Ukraine not to endanger the civilian population during offensive operations”.
According to AFP, Serhiy Khlan, an adviser to Kherson’s leadership, told Ukrainian television that the region would “certainly be liberated by September.”
In an effort to extend Russia’s supply lines, Kyiv’s soldiers have targeted river crossings in the region. An artillery strike hit the Daryivskyi bridge across the Inhulets river, a tributary of the Dnipro, on Saturday.
Additionally, they used artillery supplied by the USA on Tuesday to target the Antonivskyi Bridge itself over the Dnipro.
In an interview with the state-sponsored Tass news agency, the deputy head of the Russian-backed government in Kherson acknowledged that the bridge would collapse if the strikes continued.
The Antonivskyi Bridge has been referred to by UK officials as a “critical weakness” for Russian forces, and on Saturday they stated that it would be a major military and diplomatic loss for Russia if “crossings were blocked, and Russian forces in occupied Kherson were cut off.”
A top defence advisor to Mr. Zelensky reported that Ukrainian forces had encircled over 1,000 Russian troops in the area.
According to Oleksiy Arestovych, the Russians were caught in a “tactical encirclement” in the village of Vysokopillya in the Kherson region.
Early in the conflict, Russia faced minimal resistance in capturing Kherson, and it is thought that Mr. Zelensky’s Monday firing of the agency’s head Ivan Bakanov was a result of the SBU’s failure to destroy crossing sites over the Dnipro before leaving the city.
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