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“Step by step”. Ukrainian troops prepare to retake the south, but withdraw at a disadvantage – News



In the village, whose name has not been released for security reasons, the extent of the destruction caused by the fighting can still be seen. Since then, Ukrainian forces have managed to recapture the territory of Russian occupation, but almost all the houses are destroyed or damaged, and there are almost no residents. There are several burnt cars and rocket holes on the streets.

At the foot of the destroyed buildings, a small detachment of Ukrainian soldiers is holding positions in trenches dug from sandbags. The group is constantly on the lookout for enemy drones. They are accompanied by a couple of dogs and a cat during these long days of waiting.

Ukraine has vowed to launch a counteroffensive to recapture the strategic Kherson region on the edge of the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that his troops are advancing “step by step.”

At the moment, the troops believe that Ukraine is doing the right thing by holding the front line.

“Some people are afraid, but what can we do? We must defend our homeland because if I don’t, my children will be forced to do it alone,” Stanislav, 49, who left his wife and two children to join volunteer units after the Russian invasion began.

However, “we lack artillery,” he adds. “If we shoot eight times, the Russians will shoot 48.” “At the moment they are financially stronger,” says a volunteer from Odessa, a neighboring region. “But we survived!” he assures.

“Libertar Kherson”

Russia used most of its military forces to concentrate its offensive in the eastern region of Donbass. But the Kherson battle can also become decisive.

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This area was the first to pass to Moscow after the start of the invasion. His return would be a symbolic and strategic victory for Kyiv.

“We will definitely liberate Kherson. We will not leave him to the Russians,” says Alexander, a 45-year-old soldier. “We must resist and destroy enemy troops,” he adds.

On Sunday, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration, Sergei Khan, suggested that the region would be “finally liberated in September.”

“We can clearly see how our armed forces are advancing. We can say that we are moving from defensive to counter-offensive,” he added.

The return of the city of Kherson, the capital of the region, and the surrounding territory would push Russian troops out of the main territory north of the Crimean citadel.

A capture would undermine the Kremlin’s chances of launching an offensive westward along the Black Sea to the port of Odessa.

The upcoming battle will also be a key test of whether Ukrainian troops can fight back against the Russians and liberate the entire country. Kyiv forces received new long-range weapons supplied by the West.

According to the intelligence services of Kyiv and the West, Moscow is strengthening the defense in the south, trying to stop any offensive.

In addition, according to the same sources, the Russians stepped up their attacks on the nearby city of Mykolaiv in an apparent attempt to stop the Ukrainian advance.

“We are ready”

In response, Ukrainian forces used Hilars missile systems to destroy weapons depots, command posts and disrupt supply lines in the occupied zone. This weapon, which has a range of 80 km, was supplied by the United States.

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They also destroyed an important bridge over the Dnieper River connecting Kherson with Kyiv, with the “island” Russian troops stationed there.

On the ground, Alex, a soldier, wants the Khimarov to be sent to the southern front. But Ukraine only has a handful of them, and they need to distribute them over more than 1,000 km of front lines.

Either way, “we’re ready to fight back,” he promises.

* Por Ionut Iordachescu /AFP

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