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Ukraine reclaims 46 settlements as Putin’s troops in Kherson region

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Ukraine has recaptured dozens of southern settlements from Russia as Kyiv‘s forces lay the groundwork for a major counter-attack against Kherson city. 

Dmytro Butriy, head of the Kherson region, said Kyiv’s men have liberated 46 occupied settlements within the last 24 hours, mostly in the north. 

But at least some are located to the south, along the Black Sea coast which is close to the city itself. Russia struck back by hitting Mykolaiv – down the coast from Kherson – with artillery overnight, destroying a medical centre.

Ukraine has previously boasted that the whole of Kherson – city and region – will be back under its control by September, in what would be a hammer blow for Putin.

Ukraine has re-taken 46 settlements in Kherson province within the last 24 hours, mostly in the north but some in the south close to the city itself (file image, a Russian soldiers in the city)

Ukraine has re-taken 46 settlements in Kherson province within the last 24 hours, mostly in the north but some in the south close to the city itself (file image, a Russian soldiers in the city)

Kyiv's forces are tightening the noose around Kherson in preparation for a counter-attack to force Russia's troops out and re-take the city (file image, Ukrainian artillery)

Kyiv’s forces are tightening the noose around Kherson in preparation for a counter-attack to force Russia’s troops out and re-take the city (file image, Ukrainian artillery)

Butriy said that the humanitarian situation in the region was ‘critical’ and reiterated the authorities’ call to those who still remain in the area ‘to evacuate to safer regions’.

Ukraine’s counter-attack comes after its troops used newly-donated Western HIMARS rocket artillery to blow up strategic targets behind the Russian frontline.

In the last several weeks, Kyiv’s men have struck ammunition depots and command posts, hampering Russia’s ability to unleash terrifying artillery barrages which has helped them gain ground in the east.

They has also taken out high-ranking officers, hampering Russia’s ability to fight. 

Another major move came last week when the Antonovsky Bridge – the main road route connecting Kherson to the rest of Russia’s occupied territory – was blow up using missile strikes.

A nearby railway bridge and a second road, over the top of the Nova Khakovka dam, have also been damaged by rockets.

It means Russia has no easy way to reinforce and resupply its troops in Kherson if Ukraine attacks, and no easy way to get troops out if they are defeated.

A firefighter extinguishes a burning hospital building hit by a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv as Putin's men struck back overnight

A firefighter extinguishes a burning hospital building hit by a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv as Putin’s men struck back overnight

A shell crater is seen in front of a hospital building hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Mykolaiv

A shell crater is seen in front of a hospital building hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Mykolaiv

A rescue worker works in the aftermath of Russian shelling on a medical centre in Mykolaiv

A rescue worker works in the aftermath of Russian shelling on a medical centre in Mykolaiv

Flames burn inside the ruins of a Ukrainian medical centre hit by Russian artillery overnight

Flames burn inside the ruins of a Ukrainian medical centre hit by Russian artillery overnight

Kyiv’s men are now tightening the noose on the city, in the hopes of moving in and retaking it within the coming weeks.

The battle could prove decisive: If Ukraine wins, it will prove that the goal of pushing Russia off all its occupied territories is possible – at least in theory.

Victory will likely led to increased military aid and money from the West, and will provide Ukraine with an important morale boost after months on the defensive.

Lose, and it become much harder for Western leaders to justify continued support for Ukraine to their own people – particularly as winter approaches and Russia’s decision to turn off gas supplies bites.

Losing the support of the West would hamstring Ukraine and could force Kyiv to accept an unfavourable peace deal that would freeze the conflict in place, giving Putin the chance to restart it again any time he sees fit.

Capturing Kherson was a major propaganda win for the Kremlin, and is the only regional capital that Putin’s men have taken in five months of fighting.

It was seized early in the war, on March 3, as Russian troops spilled out of Crimea and across Ukraine’s south.

Their advance met with greater success than attacks elsewhere because Ukraine is thought to have pulled troops from here to reinforce the capital before the war began, fearing that its capture would spell an early defeat.

Ukrainian artillery shoots towards Russian positions near Kharkiv, where attacks are ongoing

Ukrainian artillery shoots towards Russian positions near Kharkiv, where attacks are ongoing

A shelling hole at a factory building damaged in a rocket hit in the small city of Merefa of Kharkiv area, Ukraine

A shelling hole at a factory building damaged in a rocket hit in the small city of Merefa of Kharkiv area, Ukraine

A man walks past a damaged factory building after a rocket hit in the small city of Merefa in the Kharkiv area, Ukraine

A man walks past a damaged factory building after a rocket hit in the small city of Merefa in the Kharkiv area, Ukraine

Now, after Russia has retreated from Kyiv and with its Donbas assault blunted, Ukraine has returned to reclaim the region.

Aside from holding symbolic importance for both sides, the city is also strategically valuable for Ukraine and Russia.

It straddles the Dnipro River – Ukraine’s main waterway that divides the country in two – and is Russia’s sole toe-hold on the western side after the Kyiv retreat.

Kherson also sits just inland from the Black Sea with easy access to lucrative trading routes, and is home to military bases and an airfield.

Re-taking it would further shield Ukraine’s main port city of Odesa from attack, but would also serve as a launching pad for further Ukrainian attacks to the east.

Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed the last time it invaded Ukraine in 2014, could be ranged by missiles from Kherson.

Taking the city would also open up routes to Melitopol, Berdyansk and Mariupol – three other large cities captured by Russia.

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