Ukraine strengthens the counteroffensive with attacks in Zaporizhia | International

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A Ukrainian tank, on Wednesday near Chasiv Yar (Donetsk region).Iryna Rybakova (AP)

Within an operation that can last weeks or months, Ukraine is trying to hack the territory won by the Russian army with the great invasion launched in February last year. Clashes between local troops and Russian invaders in the south-east of the country have intensified in recent hours, particularly in the Zaporizhia region, according to anonymous Ukrainian and Western testimonies, in a sign that the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive is ending. entrench. The first indications were registered on Monday.

The scene of this new battle unleashed is Zaporizhia, the strategic region in which Ukraine is trying to break the corridor that allows Russia to connect the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed in 2014, with Donbas (the territory that includes the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk ). The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is also located in Zaporizhia, occupied since March 2022 by Russian forces. There are indications that the German-made Leopard tanks that Kiev has received from different European countries, including Spain, are already fighting there, as can be seen in some images circulating on social networks and Russian military sources assure. Meanwhile, Ukraine maintains that it continues to advance against enemy positions in Bakhmut (Donetsk region), a town that Russia has controlled almost completely since May after long months of fierce fighting.

Some of the confirmations of the great military operation even come from the environment of President Volodímir Zelenski, according to the US network ABC, although the president keeps silent in public so as not to frustrate it. One of the newest developments has occurred around the city of Orijiv, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has pointed out on Telegram. Zelensky already acknowledged at the end of May in an interview with the newspaper The Wall Street Journal that they had everything ready for the counteroffensive. The Government and the army have insisted that there was not going to be a flag to start the operation, but, at the same time, they have not stopped offering clues about its imminence.

The Russian command itself acknowledges that Ukraine has launched a serious attack in the last few hours in Zaporizhia, a region 80% controlled by Moscow, but, according to the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, they have managed to repel it, causing "serious casualties" among the 1,500 Ukrainian troops. Three of the Leopard tanks were destroyed, according to Russian military sources quoted by Reuters. In another sign that this new phase in the war has already begun, the British Ministry of Defense points out in its daily report that the local army has taken the initiative on the battlefield. Two American media outlets, the ABC network and the daily The Washington Post, they began the counteroffensive on Thursday, although the local authorities refuse to offer any confirmation. A senior US official informed The New York Times that fighting has intensified in the south-east. Faced with this official silence, the local Ukrainian media quote foreign media.

Members of the Ukrainian emergency services carried out a drill this Wednesday in Zaporizhia, in the area of ​​the region under kyiv control.
Members of the Ukrainian emergency services carried out a drill this Wednesday in Zaporizhia, in the area of ​​the region under kyiv control.Andriy Andriyenko (AP)

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The military at the highest levels have also spoken out. "The time has come to recover what is ours," said a May 27 video published by the top commander of the Armed Forces, General Valeri Zaluzhni, who thus gave his blessing to the great operation to retake lost ground. "Our heroic soldiers are going on the offensive to liberate Ukraine from the Russian occupiers and raise the banner of victory," added the ad surrounded by military epic and inspired by the work of a century ago by local author Osip Mashchak.

These movements suggest that the rupture this week of the Nova Kajovka dam on the Dnieper and the flooding of dozens of towns in the Kherson region have not been enough to significantly alter the plans that Kiev had been cooking for months. Some analysts, without precisely concluding that it was the Russians who blew up the dam, consider, despite everything, that it could have been a strategy to try to prevent the Ukrainian advance, as the Institute for the Study of War has revealed. (ISW)

In practice, the water has forced a Russian withdrawal to positions that make it difficult to continue attacking Ukrainian positions with their artillery on the western side of the river, which they had been bombarding almost daily. This movement has forced them to position themselves between five and 15 kilometers beyond the flooded land, according to the spokeswoman for the Southern Command of the Armed Forces, Natalia Humeniuk. Two thirds of the flooded area corresponds to an area under Russian rule, according to the local authorities of Kherson.

Zelensky's visit

Without referring to aspects related to the counteroffensive, President Zelenski traveled to the area on Thursday to closely follow the rescue efforts and be aware of the consequences. The Kremlin announced that President Vladimir Putin does not plan to travel to the flooded towns under his military control. The attacks follow one another from the Russian side on the western bank of the Dnieper while the Ukrainian emergency teams carry out the rescue work.

Volodimir Zelensky, this Thursday in Kherson.
Volodimir Zelensky, this Thursday in Kherson. MYKOLA TYMCHENKO (EFE)

In total, nine people were injured, including two members of the rescue services, according to sources from that service and the governor of Kherson. Pro-Russian authorities in power on the eastern side of the river also accused Ukraine of launching attacks that killed two people. Another five would have perished because of the floods.

Having overcome the main stumbling block of the first weeks of the great invasion, which consisted of stopping the Kremlin troops in their attempt to take over Kiev, the local army has since carried out two successful counteroffensives. One, last September, allowed him to almost fully recover the Kharkov region, in the northeast. Another, in November, made it possible to expel the Russians from the west bank of the Dnieper River and liberate from occupation the city of Kherson, the only provincial capital they had captured in the full-scale invasion that began on February 24, last year.

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