Russian troops stand guard near the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Dnieper River in Kakhovka, near Kherson, Ukraine, on May 20. A Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area is targeting Russian positions that have been controlled by Moscow for months. File Photo by Sergey Ilnitsky/EPA-EFE
Aug. 30 (BP) — Ukrainian forces on Tuesday said they have made bold moves against Russian positions on battle lines in the southern part of the country as part of its long-awaited counteroffensive.
Ukraine’s military began the counteroffensive on Monday to challenge Russia’s grip on the Kherson area, which Moscow took control of early during the war.
Kherson is located about 280 miles southeast of the capital Kyiv, but it’s been a key area since the fighting began on Feb. 24 because it’s a port city on the Black Sea that offers access to the Donbas in eastern Ukraine — which has been the top target for the Russian campaign.
One official said on Monday that the Kherson counteroffensive will be a “slow operation” and it will take time to recapture territories taken by Moscow over the past seven months.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the operation aims to “grind the enemy” and save Ukrainian lives.
“Of course, many would like a large-scale offensive with news about the capture by our military of a settlement in an hour,” he said according to The Guardian. “But we don’t fight like that. Yes, funds are limited. We do not fight for show-offs and high-profile phrases as an enemy. We fight for a cause.”
Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops have retreated from some areas that are under attack in the Kherson area after early reports that Kyiv broke through Moscow’s first line of defense outside the city.
“Under the pressure of our actions, the enemy began to retreat,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, said according to NBC News. ” It is currently recorded that the enemy has withdrawn from some of its positions.”
Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Ukrainian long-range precision strikes are disrupting Russian resupply efforts, but cautioned that it’s too soon to judge how effective the counteroffensive has been so far, or will be in the near future.
“If Ukraine succeeds in undertaking sustained offensive operations, the cohesion of this untested structure will likely be a key factor in the sustainability of Russian defenses in the south,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Meanwhile farther north, Russian forces kept up shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday. Fighting there has led to at least four deaths, regional Gov. Oleh Synehubov said.
Moscow has launched attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, since the war began in February, but it’s never been able to gain full control there due to staunch Ukrainian resistance.
Also on Tuesday, Zelensky called on the European Union to pass a ban against Russian tourists. He said that’s the only way to influence Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Images of Russian tourists on European beaches recently angered some Ukrainian officials.
Ukraine’s proposal has support from the Baltic states, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic, which borders Russia. Other EU countries like Germany and France, though, are apprehensive about the idea.