Ukrainian soldiers hope to liberate the people of Kherson with a fresh assault on the strategic port city in a matter of days as Russian troops continue to withdraw to the east.
The Russians’ withdrawal, believed to be an attempt to revamp their offensive with a concerted effort to capture the eastern Donbas region, has sparked a glimmer of hope for the future of Kherson.
The southern city, home to almost 290,000 before Putin‘s invasion in February, has been occupied by Russian forces for more than a month now.
Despite capturing the city, Moscow’s troops were immediately met with waves of peaceful resistance from locals, who assembled in town squares armed with Ukrainian flags to defy their new occupiers.
As Ukraine’s heroic fightback against the invading forces continues, the country’s armed forces are hopeful that Kyiv will sanction an attack on Russian-occupied Kherson.
KHERSON: Ukrainian soldiers hope to liberate the people of Kherson with a fresh assault on the strategic port city in a matter of days as Russian troops continue to withdraw to the east
KYIV: Bombs continued to rain down upon the capital of Kyiv. Pictured: The view from a destroyed apartment block on March 25.
BUCHA: Evidence of alleged war crimes was uncovered after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, near Kyiv, on April 4
Putin was last week forced into a withering face-saving climbdown over the failed march on the capital – that his forces, which have been devastated with more than 20 battalions wiped out since the start of the war, would focus on ‘liberating’ the eastern Donbas region instead of trying to take the capital.
Russian forces have also withdrawn from Chernihiv, Konotop, Chernobyl, Sloboda and Lukashivka in recent days after facing staunch resistance from Kyiv’s troops and volunteers.
Their forces completely withdrew from the northern suburbs of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 4, leaving behind evidence of war crimes in Bucha. Pictures show the charred bodies of dead civilians who were shot at close range, many of them powerless to resist with their hands tied behind their backs.
Russian airstrikes hit Odessa early, sending up at least three columns of black smoke with flames visible apparently in an industrial area but there were no reported casualties. Rocket strikes also hit Mykolaiv and were blamed on Moscow’s men by the city’s mayor.
Heavy fighting was reported in Mariupol in southern Ukraine as Moscow’s troops keep trying to take the besieged port city where thousands of civilians have been trapped since the early days of Putin’s war.
Moscow’s men are thought to be regrouping on Ukraine’s eastern border ahead of a heavy onslaught on the Donbas region and residents in Donetsk and Luhansk have been told to evacuate now ahead of the impending manoeuvre.
The besieged southern port city Mariupol, where residents have been trapped without food, water, electricity or heat for more than a month, has continued to hold firm against Moscow’s attacks despite facing continued Russian bombardment and heavy street-to-street fighting.
The city’s mayor Vadym Boichenko said more than 5,000 civilians have been killed, including 210 children. British defence officials estimate that 160,000 people remain trapped in the city, which had a prewar population of 430,000.
Putin’s inner circle has asserted Mariupol is part of the ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ which Russia recognises as a separate state and claim troops were there ‘to assist those people who were suffering for eight years from heavy shelling from Ukraine’.
Mykolaiv, Severodonetsk and Kharkiv have continued to come under Russian shelling though Moscow has failed to take control of any of the three cities. Meanwhile Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said today that ‘those who choose war always lose’.
His comments come after drone footage emerged showing an obliterated Russian convoy lying along a highway west of Kyiv following an ambush by Zelensky’s troops – a tactic Ukraine has employed to great success across the country to repel Putin’s vast numbers of slow-moving military hardware.
The UK’s aid sent to Ukraine is being ramped up as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned ‘a more concentrated Russian offensive’ could be seen in the days and weeks ahead as she met Nato foreign ministers in Brussels.
Putin’s fresh offensive is expected to involve tens of thousands of Russian troops taking on Ukraine forces in the east of the country in an attempt to proclaim a façade of triumph on Russia’s Victory Day on May 9.
The besieged southern port city Mariupol, where residents have been trapped without food, water, electricity or heat for more than a month, has continued to hold firm against Moscow’s attacks despite facing continued Russian bombardment and heavy street-to-street fighting
Heavily damaged buildings and apartment blocks are seen in a satellite image of Mariupol, where more than 100,000 people are still said to be stranded in conditions likened to a ‘hell-scape’
Speaking on Sky News, Dmitry Peskov failed to reveal exactly how many Russian soldiers had died but said: ‘We have significant losses of troops. And it’s a huge tragedy for us.’
Russia in late March said it had lost 1,351 soldiers with another 3,825 wounded. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said two days later that at least 10,000 Russian soldiers had probably been killed.
Ukrainian officials are gathering evidence of Russian atrocities in Bucha and other cities, amid signs Moscow’s troops killed people indiscriminately before retreating.
The bodies of least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv – victims of what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said was a Russian campaign of murder, rape, dismemberment and torture.
Since Bucha, a chorus has resounded at the highest levels of Western political power calling for accountability, prosecution and punishment for war crimes in Ukraine.
On Monday, Zelensky denounced the killings as ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes,’ and U.S. President Joe Biden said Putin was ‘a war criminal’ who should be brought to trial.