Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to recapture Crimea hours after a counter-offensive was launched in the Russian-occupied Kherson region.
The Ukrainian military said on Monday that it had begun attacking Russian positions in the south of the country, including the occupied city of Kherson. The region’s location directly north of Crimea, which Russian forces annexed in 2014, could be a crucial step in Ukraine’s efforts to launch an offensive in Crimea.
Zelensky said during a televised address Monday night that Ukraine’s military had “maintained the goal” of retaking Crimea for eight years since Russia took the territory. He added that the current actions of the military would end in the defeat of Russia and the restoration of Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders.
“This war, which began with the Russian occupation of our Crimea, with an attempt to seize Donbas, must end precisely there: in the liberated Crimea, in the liberated cities of Donbas, with our troops reaching the state border of Ukraine” Zelensky said. . “We have always had this goal in mind. We have not forgotten it.”
“This is going to happen,” he continued. “This is ours. And as our society understands it, I want the occupiers to understand it too. There will be no place for them on Ukrainian land… The occupiers must know: we will expel them to the border. For our border, whose line will not has changed. The invaders know it well.”
Zelensky said he would not divulge any “details” about the plan to recapture the territory, but warned invading forces to “flee” back to Russia or surrender “if they want to survive.”
Ukraine’s military has already scored some initial successes in the southern offensive. The country’s Kakhovka Task Force said in a Facebook post on Monday that some Russian forces “withdrew from their positions in the Kherson region” and that “Russian paratroopers supporting them escaped from the battlefield.”
“The situation in the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region is extremely difficult,” the group added in a separate post, explaining that Ukrainian attacks with US-supplied HIMARS weapons had destroyed almost all major bridges in the Kherson region. , which provide a crucial link with Crimea.
“The Russian army turned out to be isolated from the supply of weapons and personnel from the territory of Crimea,” the group said. “This is a brilliant opportunity for Ukraine to take back its territories.”
Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said on Monday that 41 Russian soldiers had been killed, and a significant amount of Russian artillery and military equipment had also been destroyed in eight successful attacks on Russian positions in southern Ukraine.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, announced during a press conference on Monday that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had succeeded in exposing the shortage of Russian military personnel and had already depleted Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region in Ukraine.
“They have already had an impact on Russian military capabilities because the Russians have had to withdraw resources from the east simply because of reports that the Ukrainians might be going more offensive in the south,” Kirby said.
“They had to deplete some units from certain areas in eastern Donbas, to respond to what they clearly believed was an imminent threat of a counter-offensive,” he added.
news week contacted the Russian government for comment.