Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned Russian troops to flee if they want to survive the upcoming counter-offensive from his military forces.
The long-awaited pushback is now understood to have begun and Zelenskyy has sent a clear message to Vladimir Putin’s troops: “If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee.”
Around Kherson, in the south of Ukraine, Russian troops have begun to break through the Russian line at multiple points an advisor to Zelenskyy has said.
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In a video interview, Oleksiy Arestovych said that efforts have been made by Ukraine to cut off supply routes in the region by targeting ferries used to move goods across the Dnieper river from Russia's stronghold in the east.
Russian forces had managed to gain some territory on the river’s west bank, but now Ukraine hopes to cut them off and take the land back – although Arestovych has been keen to make clear that the battle in the south of the country is unlikely to be quick, TheGuardianreports.
Arestovych said on his official Telegram account that the fight would be a “slow operation to grind the enemy.”
He continued: “Of course, many would like a large-scale offensive with news about the capture by our military of a settlement in an hour.
“But we don’t fight like that … funds are limited.”
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Ukrainian forces are understood to have made breakthroughs at three points along the frontline, CNN reported, and are understood to have the city of Kherson in their sights.
Speaking on Monday night, President Zelenskyy made no specific mention of the counteroffensive in the south but made it clear what his priorities were as the war rages six months on.
“The occupiers should know: we will oust them to the border. To our border, the line of which has not changed.”
He made it clear that Russians taken prisoner would be treated well under the Geneva Convention but issued a warning to those who stayed to fight.
Russia’s defence ministry has said it is aware of the counter-offensive, however, has claimed that many Ukrainians have died and that the operation has largely been a failure.
Russian state-owned media outlet RIA reported however that the “enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably”.
Battlefield outcomes and claims have not been independently verified and Zelenskyy has made clear that: “Anyone want to know what our plans are? You won’t hear specifics from any truly responsible person. Because this is war. And this is what it is during the war.”
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