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WAR IN EUROPE

Ukraine capable of retaking Kherson from Russia – Pentagon chief

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) moves at the northern Kherson region, Ukraine, 29 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)

Ukrainian forces can retake the strategic southern city of Kherson from Russian troops, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday, in what would be a major defeat for Russia in its invasion of its neighbour.

Austin’s remarks coincided with a Russian-installed official in Kherson region saying Moscow was likely to pull its troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River, signalling a significant retreat, if confirmed.

Ukraine said it was still fighting in the area and was wary of the occupying Russian forces setting a trap.

Austin did not answer a question about whether Russian forces were preparing to leave. But in perhaps his most optimistic comments yet on the Ukrainian counteroffensive, expressed confidence in their ability to beat back Russian forces.

“On the issue of whether the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnipro river and in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that,” Austin told a news conference at the Pentagon.

“Most importantly, the Ukrainians believe they have the capability to do that. We have seen them engage in a very methodical but effective effort to take back their sovereign territory.”

The region’s capital and river port Kherson is the only big city Russia has captured intact since its invasion began on February 24.

The area the Ukrainians are seeking to retake on the west bank of the river also includes one side of a huge dam across the Dnipro which controls the water supply to irrigate Crimea, the peninsula Russia has occupied since 2014.

Russia has fought for months to hang on to the pocket of land it holds on the west bank at the mouth of the Dnipro river that bisects Ukraine. Moscow had sent tens of thousands of troops to reinforce the area, one of its biggest battlefield priorities.

Ukraine has targeted the main river crossings for months, making it difficult for Russia to supply its huge force on the west bank. Ukrainian troops have been advancing along the river since bursting through the Russian frontline at the start of October, although their advance had slowed.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali.)

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  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    For all us who support Ukraine, the UN Charter and International law these are good news because the defeat of Russia is critical if international law has to have any meaning. The difficulties that the Ukraine and its people have during the coming winter are a serious cause for concern. We will continue to urge the international community to help Ukraine and we salute their bravery and resoluteness in fighting the Russian thugs on the battlefield as well as on the diplomatic front despite stooges here at home including the ANC government.
    As they continue to rewrite military strategy, Putin is being weakened inside Russia because he thought it would be a walk in the park. The support that the international community is giving to Ukraine is sending a message to all thugs that the use of force against states and smaller countries will never be tolerated.
    To Ukraine, victory is certain and that Russia will never again embark on any adventurism anywhere in the world.

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