Ukraine launches ‘long-anticipated’ counteroffensive in Kherson

Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns Russian troops to flee for their lives amid push to recapture key southern region

Workers walk by destroyed houses in southern Ukraine following a missile strike in Mykolaiv on 29 August
Workers walk past houses destroyed by a missile strike in southern Ukraine
(Image credit: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive to recapture the strategically important city of Kherson from Russian forces.

The long-anticipated operation offically began yesterday and marked “a major step forward in Kyiv's campaign to retake key Russian-held territory in the south” of the country, said The Telegraph. Kherson was “the first major city to fall” to the invading forces and has “since been used by Moscow as a strategic hub and staging post for its offensives”.

The announcement of the counteroffensive, via Ukrainian state media outlets, suggests a “growing confidence in Kyiv that Western military aid is giving it renewed impetus in the war”, said the i news site.

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In an address to his nation yesterday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “If they want to survive, it’s time for the Russian military to run away. Go home. Ukraine is taking back its own.”

Both sides have issued conflicting reports on the status of the offensive. Ukraine’s military yesterday claimed to have broken through Russia’s first line of defence in the Kherson region, while Moscow said the attempt had “failed miserably”.

Neither side’s claims were “independently verified”, said the BBC, but “explosions and shots were heard for a second day on Tuesday in the regional capital”.

The “wider region is strategically valuable” too, said euronews. “Alongside being a hub of Ukrainian agriculture, it borders the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsular, which Russia has used as a rear base for the invasion.”

As Reuters noted, Ukraine’s offensive “comes after weeks of a stalemate in a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, destroyed cities and caused a global energy and food crisis amid unprecedented economic sanctions”.

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Elliott Goat is a freelance writer at The Week Digital. A winner of The Independent's Wyn Harness Award, he has been a journalist for over a decade with a focus on human rights, disinformation and elections. He is co-founder and director of Brussels-based investigative NGO Unhack Democracy, which works to support electoral integrity across Europe. A Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow focusing on unions and the Future of Work, Elliott is a founding member of the RSA's Good Work Guild and a contributor to the International State Crime Initiative, an interdisciplinary forum for research, reportage and training on state violence and corruption.