Ukraine defence forces urge Russian soldiers to 'run'
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On Wednesday, Ukrainian border guards destroyed a warehouse filled with weapons and ammunition, as well as the Russian troops nearby, officials said. President Zelensky’s forces discovered the warehouse thanks to aerial reconnaissance. The building was identified as being near the town of Slovyansk in Donetsk Oblast. Ukraine’s State Border Guard said: “After they identified the target, Ukrainians opened fire at it from a mounted anti-tank grenade launcher. “As a result, at least four occupiers were eliminated, and ammunition was destroyed.”
As well as ongoing hostilities in eastern Ukraine, on August 29, the Ukrainian army breached a Russian defensive line in the south of the country and began a counter-offensive operation to take back the Kherson region.
Ukrainian troops have since destroyed Russian bases in Kherson and the nearby town of Nova Kakhovka.
They have also badly damaged the Antonovsky Bridge and the Nova Kakhovka Dam Bridge, making it almost impossible for Russian forces to cross the Dnipro.
Ukraine’s General Staff urged the public to remain calm and advised them not to discuss the southern counter-offensive on social media, citing operational security concerns.
It also reminded citizens the liberation of Kherson Oblast may not be quick.
Kherson, directly north of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, was the first major city the Russians claimed after they invaded.
Since March, Vladimir Putin’s forces have controlled the city, installed their own mayor and insisted on the use of the Russian rouble.
Former Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell has said that, in order for an operation such as Ukraine’s counter-offensive to succeed, “you either need overwhelming force – or an element of surprise.”
Since the Ukrainians have been threatening the counter-offensive for weeks, they have lost the element of surprise and have given the Russians time to bolster their troops.
Therefore, Dr Matthew Ford, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Sussex, is sceptical about Ukraine’s chances of success.
He told Sky News: “My sense is it’s going to be a battle of exhaustion as opposed to a decisive military operation.
“The fortifications will slow them down, and like the Russians found in Severodonetsk and Mariupol, the city itself will slow them down. City fighting is dangerous and hard work.
“Winter is also fast approaching, so the Ukrainians have to do the maximum amount they can by around November.”
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However, Air Vice-Marshal Bell said: “The local population doesn’t want the Russians there – there’s been a lot of unrest.
“So it might be the locals provide some of the resistance – and that will be the Ukrainian’s edge.”
Ed Arnold, a research fellow at the defence thinktank RUSI, told Sky News, taking back Kherson would be a major strategic victory for Ukraine.
He said: “If they do take the whole Kherson region, there would essentially be no Russians west of the Dnipro River.
“That would cut Ukraine in half, protect Mykolaiv and Odesa, which are both economically and militarily important, and protect western Ukraine from most of the conflict.
“The Dnipro goes all the way up to Kyiv in the north. I’m not sure how much further the Ukrainians would go – but taking out those 20,000 or so troops would mean a really precarious situation for Russia.”
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