British defense officials say Ukraine’s counterattack leaves Russian troops ‘vulnerable’ in Kherson

British defense and intelligence officials said on Thursday that a Ukrainian counter-offensive nearly cut off the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson and left thousands of Russian troops stationed near the Dnipro river “very easy” hurt”.

Ukraine has made it clear that it intends to retake Kherson, which fell to Russia in the early days of the invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 24 February.

The UK Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces may have established a bridgehead south of the Ingulets River, and used new long-range artillery to damage at least three of the bridges across the Dnipro River.

“Russia’s 49th Army, stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River, looks very vulnerable right now,” it said in a regular intelligence message on Twitter, adding that Kherson mostly separated from other territories occupied by Russia.

“His loss would seriously undermine Russia’s attempt to view the occupation as a success.”

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, previously tweeted that Russia was concentrating “maximum numbers” in the direction of the Kherson but gave no details.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Russia was conducting a “large-scale redeployment” of its forces from the east to the south to shift its strategy from offensive to defensive.

Video taken from last Saturday shows the extent of damage to the important Antonivskyi bridge in the Kherson region after the Ukrainian shelling on July 20.

A hole in a bridge.
The Antonivskyi Bridge in the Russian-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine was damaged by Ukrainian shelling on July 20. The bridge is considered essential for Moscow to resupply forces occupying the south. country. (Reuters)

Zelenskyy said Ukraine will rebuild the bridge over the Dnipro and other intersections in the region.

“We are doing everything to ensure that the occupying forces do not have any logistical opportunities in our country,” he said in a statement Wednesday night.

Russian officials earlier said they would turn to pontoon bridges and ferries to ferry forces across the river.

Russian-backed forces said on Wednesday they had captured the Soviet-era coal-fired Vuhlehirsk power plant, Ukraine’s second-largest company, in Moscow’s first significant gain in more than three weeks. .

US efforts in the field of diplomacy

Russia invaded Ukraine in late February in what Moscow called a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “demilitarizing” the neighboring country. Ukraine and its allies call the invasion a gratuitous war of aggression.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he planned to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the first between two government officials since before the war began.

The call in the coming days will not be “a negotiation on Ukraine,” Blinken said at a news conference on Wednesday, reaffirming Washington’s position that any negotiations over the termination The end of the war must take place between Kyiv and Moscow.

A soldier fires a cannon.
A Ukrainian self-propelled howitzer is fired towards Russian forces at the front line in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (Evgeniy Maloletka / The Associated Press)

TASS news agency reported that Russia has not received an official request from Washington about the phone call between Blinken and Lavrov.

The US has made “a substantial offer” to Russia to free US citizen WNBA star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, Blinken said, without giving details. details of what the United States would offer in response.

Blinken said he would press Lavrov to respond to the offer.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed a CNN report that Washington is willing to trade Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, as part of the deal.

Besides discussing the Americans detained by Russia, Blinken said he would raise with Foreign Minister Lavrov the tentative agreement on grain exports reached last week between Russia, the United States, and Turkey. United States and Ukraine.

Russia reduced the flow of gas to Europe on Wednesday amid energy disagreements with the European Union. It has blocked grain exports from Ukraine since the invasion, but on Friday it agreed to allow deliveries across the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus and further to global markets.

VIEW | Heavy damage from Russian missile attack near Odesa, Ukraine:

Heavy damage from Russian missile attack near Odesa, Ukraine

The Ukrainian government released a video on Tuesday that shows widespread damage caused by a Russian missile hitting Zatoka, an important coastal town, south of Odesa.

The deal was almost immediately questioned when Russia fired cruise missiles at Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port, on Saturday, just 12 hours after the deal was signed.

Before the invasion and subsequent sanctions, Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

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