The local authorities and the Ukrainian army announced this counter-offensive, with the aim of retaking Kherson
Russian and Ukrainian troops engaged in heavy fighting in the southern region of Kherson on Tuesday, amid kyiv’s counteroffensive aimed at retaking areas held by Moscow, the country’s presidency said.
“Throughout the day (Monday) and throughout the night there were powerful explosions in the Kherson region. Intense fighting is taking place in almost the entire territory of the region,” the Ukrainian presidency said in its morning report.
“Ukrainian Armed Forces launched offensive actions in various directions,” he added.
According to this report, his forces destroyed “a number of ammunition depots” and “all major bridges” that allow vehicles to cross the Dnieper.
Located on the shores of the Black Sea, most of the Kherson region and its capital of the same name were captured at the start of the war by Russian troops, who advanced from the nearby Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.
With the war in eastern Donbass stalled, analysts had predicted for weeks that fighting could move south to break the stalemate before winter sets in.
The day before, the local authorities and the Ukrainian army had announced this counter-offensive, in particular with the aim of retaking the city of Kherson, which had 280,000 inhabitants before the conflict.
In his late-night speech, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy avoided giving details of the decision, but challenged Moscow.
“The occupiers must know that we are going to push them back to their border (…) If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian army to flee. Go home,” he said.
Bombings in Kharkiv
In the early hours of Tuesday, the “southern” command of the Ukrainian army noted on Facebook that the situation was “tense” in its area of action.
“The enemy attacked our positions five times, but they were all failures,” he said.
It also reported “a massive shelling during the day” in the city of Mikolaiv, 60 km from Kherson and controlled by Kyiv, which left two dead, 24 injured and “significant” damage to buildings and infrastructure.
From Russia, the Defense Ministry said on Monday that the Ukrainian counter-offensive had “failed miserably” and resulted in “heavy casualties” for troops in Kyiv.
Russian shelling continued on the rest of the front line, which runs from north to south.
In Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkov (northeast), Mayor Igor Terekhov on Tuesday denounced a bombardment in its urban center which left five dead and seven injured.
The regional governor, Oleg Sinegubov, proposed a slightly lower toll of four dead and four wounded.
“The Russian occupiers shelled the central districts of Kharkiv,” he said on Telegram, asking the population to stay “inside the shelters”.
On the other hand, the governor of the region of Zaporijia (south), Oleksandr Starukh, affirmed early Tuesday that Russia had launched a missile attack on the city of the same name which caused no casualties.
Mission in Zaporizhia
This region has been at the center of tensions and concerns for weeks over the bombing of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, for which the Russians and Ukrainians hold each other mutually responsible.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday that a support and assistance mission was “en route” to Zaporizhia and would arrive “this week”.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog has been asking to visit the site for months, warning of the “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.
Accused by Kyiv of having placed artillery units inside the factory, Russia deemed this inspection “necessary”, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
After more than six months, the conflict has global repercussions, particularly in the energy and food markets.
On the energy front, the French supplier Engie announced on Tuesday that the Russian giant Gazprom was further reducing its gas deliveries alleging a lag in contracts, which could further contract the European market.
On the humanitarian level, the war between two major grain producers has caused food prices to soar and raised fears of worsening famine.
To counter this, the UN and Turkey managed to reach an agreement between Kyiv and Moscow to allow the export of grain through the Black Sea.
As part of this pact, a ship chartered by the World Food Program arrived in Djibouti on Tuesday with 23,000 tons of wheat from Ukraine to alleviate the historic drought in the Horn of Africa.