Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive to liberate the Kherson region occupied by Russian forces. The operation to take back the occupied southern territory will take place from the west, near Mykolaiv, and the north, from cities such as Zelenodolsk.

Today, Monday, July 4, an unnamed employee of the Ukrainian military intelligence reported to The Economist that advanced units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are within approximately one kilometer of the first suburbs of Kherson, within range for Ukrainian sniper units to be deployed. However, the imminent battle to retake the region is expected to be fierce.

Last month, President Zelensky stressed that the supply of Western missile systems is crucial to fundamentally alter the war in Ukraine’s favor – but so far only a small number of American M777 howitzers have been sent to the south.

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According to the Economist, the Russian military is constantly improving its fortifications, and is saturating the defense line with long-term firing points made of concrete.

The offensive of the Ukrainian army is also not facilitated by the open landscape of the Kherson region, on which troops are vulnerable to attack from artillery. In addition, the three-fold advantage of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in manpower and equipment, which is necessary for a successful offensive, has still not materialized in the south.

Kherson is the gateway to Crimea and the only regional center that Russia has managed to capture since the start of the full-scale war on February 24, 2022. Equally strategically crucial for Russia is the occupation of the nearby city of Kakhovka, on the left bank of the Dnipro River, where a dam supplies the annexed peninsula with water.

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The entire region is an agricultural center, specifically providing tomatoes, watermelons, sunflowers, and soybeans.

The decision to focus on recapturing Kherson comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that Ukrainian forces will regroup and return to fight Russian troops in the eastern city of Lysychansk, after it was captured by Russian forces.

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In his daily address on Sunday, 3 July, 2022, the President said: “Ukraine does not give anything up. And when someone over there in Moscow reports something about the Luhansk region – let them remember their reports and promises before February 24, in the first days of this invasion, in the spring and now. Let them really evaluate what they got over this time and how much they paid for it. Because their current reports will turn into dust just as the previous ones. We are gradually moving forward – in the Kharkiv region, in the Kherson region and at sea: Zmiinyi is a good example of this. There will be a day when we will say the same about Donbas.”

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