Ukrainian forces pressure Russian-held Kherson

Kyiv, Ukraine — On Friday, Ukrainian forces continued to pressure Russian positions in occupied Kherson, targeting supply routes across the Dnieper as Kyiv closed in on a full-scale assault to retake the strategic southern port city.

As many as 2,000 Russian recruits have flocked to the Kherson region “to replenish losses and reinforce units on the front line”, according to the Ukrainian army general staff.

The Antonivskyi Bridge, which is on a main road linking Crimea with Russian-held territories in southern Ukraine, was hit on Thursday evening, said Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Southern Ukraine Operational Command. , but only after the local 10 p.m. curfew, to avoid civilian casualties. .

“We are not attacking civilians and settlements,” Humeniuk told Ukrainian television after Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Moscow-based regional administration, claimed that at least four civilians had been killed in the attack. following the Ukrainian strikes.

Stremousov said the attack happened about 40 minutes after the curfew began. Thirteen other people were injured, said senior Kherson health official Vadim Ilmiyev. Among the dead and injured were journalists from the Russian television channel “Tamvria”, according to Stremousov.

Earlier Ukrainian strikes had rendered the Antonivskyi Bridge inoperable, prompting Russian authorities to set up ferry crossings and pontoon bridges to deliver supplies to Russian troops in Kherson, which is on the west bank of the Dnieper. These crossings have been regularly targeted by Ukrainian rockets.

Russian-installed officials have urged residents to evacuate the city of Kherson for their safety and allow the army to build fortifications. The Ukrainian army reported on Friday that bank workers, medical personnel and teachers had started to be evacuated as the city’s infrastructure also began to deteriorate. At least 15,000 of the expected 60,000 residents have already been displaced from the city and surrounding areas.

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.

The Kherson region, along with Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, were illegally annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, although not all of the territory is under Russian control. He then imposed martial law earlier this week in a bid to assert Russian authority amid a series of military setbacks and fierce international criticism.

In the Donetsk region, two people have been killed in the past 24 hours after Russian forces shelled the town of Bakhmut, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Russian troops have been unable to advance towards the city for over a month now.

Some nine people were injured in two Russian attacks in the eastern city of Kharkiv, according to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov.

Amid the fighting, the Kremlin insisted on Friday that Putin had been open to negotiations “from the very beginning” and that “nothing has changed” in this regard.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin ‘tried to start talks with NATO and the United States even before the special military operation’ – the Russian term for his war in Ukraine .

Peskov was speaking following earlier remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said Putin appeared to be “much softer and more open to negotiations” with Ukraine than in the past.

Meanwhile, Russia’s deployment of planes and troops to airbases in Belarus has raised the specter of another front on Ukraine’s northern border, though officials have said such a move was unlikely.

The Ukrainian army general staff reported an increased likelihood that such an attack could be aimed at cutting off supply routes for Western weapons and equipment. The build-up could also be aimed at diverting Ukrainian resources and weakening any counter-offensive in the south.


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