The announcement of the Ukrainian counteroffensive — “Hold on, Kherson, we’re coming!” the military said Sunday morning on Twitter — signaled what may prove to be a new chapter in a war that has political, economic and humanitarian significance far beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Kherson, a port city in Ukraine’s agricultural heartland, was the first major city to fall as Russian forces swept north out of Crimea more than three months ago. After seizing it, Moscow used the city as a staging ground for operations across southern Ukraine.
But in recent weeks, Russian forces — stretched thin and taking heavy losses as they gain ground in the eastern Donbas region — have concentrated their efforts in the south on fortifying defensive positions. Satellite images have shown Russians scrambling to build fortifications in Kherson, where the shoots of an insurgency surfaced this month.
It was not clear if they were prepared for the Ukrainian counterattack.
The Ukrainian military headquarters said in a statement that its forces had broken through a Russian line of defense and pushed the Russians into less favorable terrain near the villages of Andriyivka, Lozove and Belihorka. The counteroffensive also sought to threaten Russia’s supply routes on bridges over the Dnipro River.
LESS THAN 50%
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