Ukrainian War: Ukrainian army approaches Kherson, Russian “evacuations”, barrage warnings

1. Ukrainian forces approach Kherson

Russian and Ukrainian troops are preparing for a major battle over the strategic city of Kherson, at the center of one of four regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed and brought under martial law.

Fighting and evacuations were reported Thursday in the Kherson region as Moscow tried to subject Ukraine to fresh missile and drone attacks on critical infrastructure.

Putin declared martial law on the annexed regions of Kherson, Lugansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, in a bid to assert Russian authority, amid battlefield setbacks, troubled troop mobilization, growing criticism at home and abroad and international sanctions.

The unstable status of the annexed territories was visible in the regional capital of Kherson, where Russian military officials replaced civilian leaders installed in the Kremlin under martial law measures.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces had launched 15 attacks on Russian military strongholds in the Kherson region.

No less than 2,000 Russian conscripts entered the Kherson region “to replenish losses and reinforce units on the front line”, according to the Ukrainian army general staff.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Kremlin forces repelled Ukrainian attempts to advance with tanks on the Kherson villages of Sukhanove, Nova Kamianka and Chervonyi Yar.

Russia’s new military commander in Ukraine this week acknowledged the threat posed by the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson.

General Sergei Surovikin claimed that Ukrainian forces were using HIMARS rockets to strike the city, adding that “overall the situation in the [war] area can be described as tense.”

The British Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that Russian authorities were considering “a major withdrawal of their forces” from all areas west of the Dnipro River.

2. Russia Resumes “Evacuations” From Kherson

Russian-installed officials have urged residents of Kherson to “evacuate”, both for their safety and to allow the army to fortify itself.

Kremlin-backed governor Vladimir Saldo said authorities were moving civilians to “ensure people’s safety” and allow the military “to act decisively”.

Others claimed that these “evacuations” of Ukrainian civilians to Russian-held territory were forced or that people had no other route to safety.

Officials said some 15,000 residents were displaced from the city and surrounding areas on Thursday.

The city of Kherson, with a pre-war population of around 284,000, was one of the first urban areas captured by Russia when it invaded Ukraine, and it remains the largest city that ‘she holds.

It is a prime target for both sides due to its key industries and major river port.

Reports of sabotage and assassinations of Moscow-backed officials in Kherson surfaced for months in what appeared to be one of the most active Ukrainian resistance movements in occupied territory.

Moscow’s plans are to move around 10,000 people in six days.

3. EU agrees to increase financial support to Ukraine

European Union leaders have approved a plan to provide Ukraine with €18 billion in financial support over the next year.

It comes after Zelenskyy’s warnings that Russia is trying to trigger an exodus of refugees by destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

As a result of the plan, the 27-nation bloc would now match US financial support for the war-torn Eastern European country.

“Ukraine is telling us that it needs around 3 to 4 billion euros per month to have enough resources for the essentials,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

That figure would be covered equally by the EU and the US, with additional funds coming from international financial institutions, she said.

“It’s very important for Ukraine to have a predictable and stable revenue stream,” von der Leyen told reporters.

She said the EU was looking to provide around €1.5 billion each month, describing it as an amount of funding that would be “stable and reliable”.

The bloc’s finance ministers have been tasked with coming up with a system to pull together the money, which would come on top of the €9 billion in macro-finance support the EU is already sending.

4. Zelenskyy urges the West to pressure Russia not to destroy the dam

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the West to warn Russia not to blow up a massive dam that would flood much of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push back Muscovite troops from Kherson in one of the battles most important of the war.

In a televised address, the Ukrainian president said Russian forces placed explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back a massive reservoir, dominating much of southern Ukraine.

A Russian official based in the region, Vladimir Leontyev, said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces had launched five missile strikes against the dam and hydroelectric power station about 70 kilometers from the city of Kherson.

He told Russian television that if the facilities were destroyed, a critical channel providing water to annexed Crimea would be cut off.

Zelenskyy claimed that Russia mined the dam and power station, intending to blow them up in what he called an act of terrorism.

Ukraine’s president has warned it could release 18 million cubic meters of water, flooding Kherson and dozens of areas where hundreds of thousands of people live. He told the European Council that Russia would then try to blame Ukraine.

5. Putin fires a rifle as he inspects the mobilization training ground

Putin inspected a training ground for mobilized troops on Thursday and was shown firing a sniper rifle in footage meant to show his personal support for Russian soldiers heading for Ukraine.

The Russian president visited the center, located southeast of Moscow, along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Footage from the event shows a figure who appeared to be Putin lying flat on the ground and firing a rifle.

In the next image, he could be seen dusting off his overcoat, slapping a soldier on the shoulder and wishing him good luck.

The visit came a day after Putin declared martial law in the four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia.

Conscription efforts so far have been described as chaotic, with a wide range of errors and appeal documents being sent to the wrong people.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *