Ukrainian forces have reclaimed dozens of settlements in the country’s south, as they close in on the regional capital Kherson with Russian troops withdrawing from the area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that “dozens of Ukrainian flags have already returned to their rightful place” in his evening address to the nation.
“Today we have good news from the south,” Zelenskiy said. “Forty-one settlements were liberated.”
Russia seized the city Kherson at the start of the February invasion and annexed the entire region in late September. But US officials say Ukrainian forces are now advancing on three axes toward the city and the Dnipro River.
Thousands of professional Russian troops have already been withdrawn from the city to relative safety on the other side of the river, with only conscripts remaining in defensive positions. Comments made on Russian TV by armed forces commander Sergei Surovikin imply that those troops are to be withdrawn shortly too, leaving a clear path to the city for Ukraine’s army.
Ukrainian military leaders have warned the public nature of the announcement may mean it is a trap, and said troops would still be on high alert entering the city. Intelligence reports suggest that Russian forces have laid mines indiscriminately across the city prior to their withdrawal.