Desperate Putin eyes up Kherson strike in last-ditch aim to push back in Ukraine

Ukraine: Retaking of Kherson ‘is significant’ says retired General

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Ukrainian General Oleksiy Gromov said on Thursday that Kyiv had improved its tactical position around the eastern city of Sloviansk and recaptured two villages but that Russian forces had been trying to take the eastern city of Avdiivka and village of Pisky.

He added that Ukrainian troops had been forced to switch to defending the outskirts of Avdiivka.

The Russians’ movements, which Kyiv described as a “massive redeployment”, might be part of the Kremlin’s efforts to defend its territorial gains against Ukraine’s commitment to reclaiming occupied Kherson and areas around Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine has already recaptured more than 50 villages.

As per the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), Russia is feeling threatened by Western-supplied weapons systems that are allowing Ukrainians to counterattack the Russian army more effectively.

The MoD cited efforts by Moscow to hide damage to the Antonovsky Bridge, which leads to occupied Kherson and is vital for their military supplies to the city.

The key bridge was hit by Ukrainian missiles last week.

The MoD said in its intelligence update on Thursday: “Russian forces have almost certainly positioned pyramidal radar reflectors in the water near the recently damaged Antonivskiy [Antonovsky] Bridge and by the recently damaged nearby rail bridge, both of which cross over the Dnipro River in Kherson, southern Ukraine.

“The radar reflectors are likely being used to hide the bridge from synthetic aperture radar imagery and possible missile targeting equipment.

“This highlights the threat Russia feels from the increased range and precision of Western-supplied systems.”

Ukraine: Footage appears to show destroyed bridge in Kherson

The ministry’s comments came as the UK secured support from fellow NATO member Canada to join its military backing of Kyiv, as the two countries partnered to ramp up the training of Ukrainian soldiers on British soil.

Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Anita Anand, announced on Thursday that Ottawa is deploying up to three cohorts of personnel to military bases in Britain, with the first group departing as soon as next week.

The training programme, aimed at increasing the size of Ukraine’s ground forces in the face of Russia’s ongoing invasion, will focus on individual skills required for frontline combat.

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These include weapons handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict, Canada’s defence ministry said.

Canada is one among other allied nations contributing to this British-led initiative, with the Netherlands and New Zealand also committing to sending military trainers.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I am delighted that the Canadian Armed Forces will be joining the growing international effort to support the training of Ukrainian soldiers in the UK.”

The boost in aid follows remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday in which he described the scene of “hell” his army was being put through by Putin’s forces.

Although supplies of arms by the West were helping, Kyiv has not yet been able to overcome Russian advantages in heavy weapons and manpower, the leaders said in his late-night address.

Mr Zelensky said “words cannot describe” the suffering Russia’s war is bringing to his country.

He added: “This is very much felt in combat, especially in the Donbas.

“It is just hell there.”

Authorities in Kyiv this week warned Russia is preparing to send a military strike force to the President’s hometown.

They claimed Moscow had begun to build up troops to send towards Kryvyi Rih, the steel-producing city of 600,000 people that lies around 30 miles from the southern frontline and saw Mr Zelensky grow up.

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