Ukraine offensive sparks heavy fighting

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine (AFP) — There is “heavy fighting” in “almost the entire territory” of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson occupied by Russian troops, Ukraine’s presidency said Tuesday.

“Powerful explosions continued throughout the day and throughout the night in Kherson region,” the president’s office said in a morning update.

“Heavy fighting is taking place in almost the entire territory of the Kherson region. The Armed Forces of Ukraine launched offensive actions in various directions,” it added.

Regional officials said the long-awaited offensive was “the beginning of the de-occupation of Kherson region.”

In an intelligence note, Britain’s defense ministry said although it was “not yet possible to confirm the extent of Ukrainian advances” its army had increased “artillery fire in front line sectors across southern Ukraine.”

It added that it was using “long-range precision strikes to disrupt Russian resupply” lines.

‘Go home’

The coastal region of Kherson and its capital city of the same name have been contested by Russian troops since the war broke out six months ago.

“Ukrainian armed forces have launched their offensive in several areas in the south,” the head of the regional administration, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said on the Telegram app.

In his daily address Monday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky did not specifically mention the counter-offensive but said they would oust the occupying forces “to the border.”

“If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee. Go home,” he said.

Russian forces seized Kherson, a town of 280,000 inhabitants, on 3 March.

It was the first major city to fall following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

“Today there was a powerful artillery attack on enemy positions in… the occupied Kherson region,” local government official Sergey Khlan told Ukraine’s Pryamyi TV channel.

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