Ukraine launches counter-offensive to retake Kherson from Russia

In recent weeks, Ukraine’s armed forces have used Western-provided weaponry, such as the US Himars rocket launchers, to soften their Russian enemies by targeting supply lines and logistical hubs behind the frontline.

Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security on Monday wrote on Twitter that its armed forces had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defence near Kherson”.

“Ukraine has a real chance to get back its occupied territories, especially considering the very successful use of western weapons by the Ukrainian army,” it added.

The counter-offensive appeared to start early on Monday, with long-range strikes on Russian command centres and bridges, cutting off a supply of weapons and reinforcements to Russian forces in Kherson from occupied Crimea.

There were unconfirmed reports that Ukraine’s armed forces staged the initial attacks with tanks, artillery and helicopters to break through the first line of defences near Kherson.

Ukrainian forces ‘grinding down the enemy’

In a message on the Telegram messaging app, Andriy Yerkmak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said Kyiv’s armed forces were “grinding down the enemy” as “Kherson lay ahead”.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to the Volodymyr Zelensky, added: “The only possible option for negotiations with Russia is being conducted by a special Ukrainian delegation in the southern and other directions of the frontline.

“‘Negotiations’ are going well. We expect new ‘compromises’ in the form of ‘gestures of goodwill’.”

As Ukraine’s troops made apparent gains towards Nova Kakhovka, a city east of Kherson, residents with Russian SIM cards were on Monday warned to evacuate the area by Kremlin-installed officials.

“An evacuation has been announced today during the day, the siren has been sounding most of the day. People have left their jobs, they are in bomb shelters,” said Vladimir Leontiev, its puppet governor, as air raid sirens and explosions could be heard across the city.

Ukraine has regularly targeted the bridge at Nova Kakhovka, the second biggest city in the Kherson region and is vital for delivering supplies to Russian forces.

The Kakhovka group of Ukrainian soldiers claimed to have forced the 109th regiment of the so-called people’s militia of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic from their defensive positions. The Russian paratroopers said to have been sent to support them also fled the battlefield.

“In the Kherson region, Russian troops have moved away from their positions, paratroopers are fleeing the battlefield,” the Kakhovka Operational Group of Troops said in a Facebook post on Monday.

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