A senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces had broken through Russian defensive lines in several fronts as part of Kyiv’s newly launched southern offensive near the strategic city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych in a video address late on August 29 also said that Ukrainian forces were shelling ferries that Russian forces were using to supply a section of Russia-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.
The claims, like many on both sides of the conflict, could not immediately be independently verified.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces earlier on August 29 announced that they had started offensive action on several fronts in the south, launching a much-anticipated counteroffensive to regain the Kherson region from Russian invading forces.
“Today we started offensive actions in various directions, including in the Kherson region,” Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne on August 29 cited southern command spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk as saying. She confirmed the news minutes later at a briefing.
Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that a Ukrainian offensive had been launched, but it insisted it had failed, with its forces inflicting heavy Ukrainian casualties.
“Enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably,” it said.
The claims could not be independently verified.
Russia captured swathes of southern Ukraine in the first phase of its February 24 invasion. Ukraine has been pledging for weeks to launch a major counteroffensive to retake land and has used Western-made long-range weapons to hit Russian supply lines.
Ms. Humeniuk said Ukraine’s recent strikes on Russia’s southern logistical routes had “unquestionably weakened the enemy,” adding that more than 10 Russian ammunition dumps had been hit over the past week.
However, she declined to disclose more details about the new offensive.
“Any military operation needs silence,” she said, adding that Russia’s forces in the south are “rather powerful” and have been built up over a long time.
Ukrainska Pravda and Suspilne quoted Ukrainian official Volodymyr Litvinov as saying that Ukrainian forces hit the Beryslav Machine-Building Plant in the Kherson region, where Russian troops had concentrated equipment and manpower.
Mr. Litvinov did not provide details but said a fire had broken out at the site. The report could not immediately be verified.
Russian-installed officials in the region on August 29 announced the evacuation of residents of nearby Nova Kakhovka, a city frequently targeted by Kyiv’s forces, to bomb shelters from their workplaces. The officials citied Ukrainian rocket strikes on the city.
The Moscow-appointed regional leader of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, dismissed the Ukrainian assertion of a counteroffensive in the Kherson region as false, claiming the Ukrainian forces have suffered heavy losses in the south and elsewhere.
In Mykolayiv, regional military administration chief Vitaliy Kim said Russian troops had shelled the center of the strategic southern city about 60 kilometers northwest of Kherson.
“They are shelling the city center. … Missile launches are still occurring,” he said.
“There are dead passersby and civilians in the houses. Stay in shelters,” Mr. Kim urged, without providing casualty figures.
A Reuters journalist in Mykolayiv said a Russian missile struck a private home located next to a school in a residential district, killing one woman.
Both houses on the property were destroyed in the missile strike, the journalist said.
Mykolayiv, which hosts major Ukrainian shipbuilding facilities, has been regularly shelled by Russian forces throughout the conflict, although Moscow has denied it targets civilian areas.
(With reporting by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Reuters, dpa and AFP)
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