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Home LATEST NEWS Ukraine launches counteroffensive to retake Russian-controlled south

Ukraine launches counteroffensive to retake Russian-controlled south

Ukraine announced a military offensive on Monday in areas of its south, marking the launch of a long-awaited push to retake Russian-held territory.

“Today we start offensive actions in different directions,” said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for the southern military command. saying The Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne.

The apparent start of the major counteroffensive comes after weeks of preparation and nearly six months since Russian forces seized swathes of territory in southern Ukraine in the first days of the war.

Kyiv has long promised to reclaim that land and has shown growing confidence in recent weeks, increasingly taking the lead in a conflict that the Kremlin itself has admitted was stagnant.

Military observers have been anticipating a counterattack on the ground in the south, as Ukraine apparently targeted the Russian military. sites, as well as key bridges, with strikes deep behind defensive lines there and in nearby Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

The front lines in the south are centered on Kherson, a region of Russia seized in its entirety in March. A strategic gateway to the Black Sea and Crimea, it has been instrumental in consolidating Moscow’s dominance in the area.

The extent of the Ukrainian offensive and the gains made were unclear as social media abuzz with unconfirmed reports.

Humeniuk expressed caution and asked for patience, noting that the Russian military was still strong and had been reinforcing its positions in the area.

“We do not declare the beginning of the offense or the end of the offense,” he said in a clarifying comment by phone. “But under the pressure of our actions, the enemy began to retreat. It is currently on record that the enemy has withdrawn from some of their positions.”

NBC News has not verified the claim.

“Early reports indicate that Ukrainian forces have broken through the first set of Russian defenses in places around Kherson,” said Neil Melvin, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank.

“These were likely defended by some of the weaker Russian forces, especially from occupied areas of eastern Ukraine, and the real test of Ukraine’s ability to push back Russian forces is likely yet to come,” he said. .

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appeared to make a veiled reference to the news. “The only possible option for negotiations with Russia is being conducted by a special Ukrainian delegation in the south and in other front line directions,” he said. in a tweet.

But Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration for the Kherson region, denied reports of a Ukrainian offensive, calling them “fantasy” and adding that the region’s capital was leading “a peaceful life,” Russian state news agency Tass reported on Monday.

Russian media also reported Ukrainian attacks on the occupied cities of Nova Kakhovka and Beryslav near the city of Kherson overnight.

Meanwhile, the governor of the nearby Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, said at least two people were killed and 11 wounded in what he described as heavy Russian attacks on the city of Mykolaiv, which is under Ukrainian control.

It came amid continuing fears of a nuclear catastrophe at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, also in southern Ukraine, when an international team of nuclear experts finally set out on Monday to inspect the site. Kyiv and Moscow accused each other of continuing to attack the plant despite the risk of a radiation disaster.

NBC News has not verified either party’s claims.

Without a clear picture of exactly what happened on the battlefield in the south, some military experts were reserved in their analysis.

“It’s too early to tell, but the Ukrainians have been paving the way for an offensive for several weeks now,” said Michael A. Horowitz, geopolitical and security analyst and head of intelligence at Le Beck consultancy.

“I think that the Ukrainian military also maintains tight control over tactical information for operational purposes, which for me also means that this is a big offensive,” he added.

The apparent offensive could mean the war has entered its most important stage since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February, Melvin said.

“The Ukrainian armed forces aim to destroy Russian forces west of the Dnipro River and recapture the city of Kherson, and possibly further north Zaporizhzhia, as well as inflicting heavy losses on Russian forces in occupied areas further east,” he added.

“If this can be achieved, it will increase the possibility that the Russians could be defeated in the conflict and sharpen Putin’s war strategy.”



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