Theyve been liberated Zelenskys men begin takeback of Kherson Oblast in blow to Putin

Ukraine: Russia 'will struggle regenerating momentum' says Keane

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Ukrainian troops are continuing their drive to push Russia from the south by bombing bridges, disrupting supply lines and targeting enemy forces with air strikes. Kyiv says Moscow is redeploying forces to the south, in particular the Kherson region which neighbours Crimea.

Three villages have been liberated by its forces in the Russia-occupied area. Military chief Oleksii Hromov, quoted by news outlet Ukrainska Pravda, said: “Our military units and subunits continue the gradual liberation of Kherson Oblast from the occupation forces of the Russian Federation.

“Ivanivka and Lozove have been liberated over the past two weeks, and Andriivka was liberated this week.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed his country’s forces struck the Antonivskyi road bridge in Kherson to deprive Russian forces of the opportunity to transfer troops to the Kherson region.

Russia is reportedly sending reinforcements to the area as it is determined to hold on to its land bridge.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine will liberate its territory using “military, diplomatic and all other available tools” until it reaches its legal borders.

Kyiv has said weapons donated by Western allies, including HIMARS rocket systems, have taken out crucial Russian storage depots, command posts and ammunition dumps inside Russian-occupied territory.

Ukraine has also reported that its forces destroyed at least two ammunition dumps at Nova Khakova in the Kherson region.

Ukrainian troops have also hit three bridges over the Dnipro River and a transport of Russian S-300 missiles.

The Ministry of Defence said today that Russia’s 49th Army, stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River, “now looks highly vulnerable” after Ukrainian long-range artillery hit the three bridges.

Its intelligence update continued “one of these, the 1,000-metre long Antonivskyi bridge near Kherson city, was damaged last week” and after another strike this week “it is highly likely that the crossing is now unusable”.

It claimed “Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories”.

The Russians still control large areas to the northeast of the city and could resupply forces on the west bank using pontoon bridges and river ferries across the Dnipro.

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William Alberque, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The Moscow Times: “I think there’s real concern among the Russians that they may end up with some strategic losses in the south.

“This is a matter of how many forces Ukraine can throw forward.”

Moscow has taken a number of steps to draw Kherson into Russia’s orbit since Putin’s troops seized swathes of southern Ukraine.

The ruble has been introduced, Russian mobile networks have been installed and Ukrainians in the occupied south have been offered fast-track Russian citizenship.

TASS has reported the Kremlin-installed administration in the area has formed an election committee to prepare the way for a referendum on Kherson becoming part of Russia.

Moscow has also cracked down on signs of support for Ukraine or opposition to Russia’s occupation.

Human Rights Watch accused Moscow last week of turning Kherson into an “abyss of fear and wild lawlessness”.

But there are signs of hope the Ukrainians are gaining the upper hand.

Mr Alberque said: “HIMARS is tearing apart the Russian logistics, ammunition depots and command posts in the Kherson area.”

Konrad Muzyka, an analyst and head of the Poland-based Rochan consultancy, told The Moscow Times: “Right now, it is difficult to predict what might happen as we do not know how much manpower and equipment either side has. I would say that Ukraine will likely make incremental gains around Kherson.”

Mr Alberque said retaking Kherson would provide the Ukrainian forces with a much-needed morale boost.

He explained: “Recapturing Kherson would reinvigorate the Ukrainian army to a massive degree and help galvanize international support even further.”

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