Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

Russia kaput!: Ukraine brigade eyes victory as enemy retreats from Kherson

Russia kaput!: Ukraine brigade eyes victory as enemy retreats from Kherson

Russia kaput!: Ukraine brigade eyes victory as enemy retreats from Kherson

On the edge of a copse, Danilo and two fellow soldiers stared intently at a screen. On it was a live video feed from a drone. "It's quite simple to use. We put the drone up, call in an artillery strike and see where it lands. Then we adjust the position," said Danilo, a member of Ukraine's 63rd Mechanised Brigade.

The drone offered a panoramic view of the city of Snihurivka, occupied since the spring by Russian troops. There was an industrial estate, buildings and a grain silo, used by the enemy as a lookout point. The latest attack missed its target. "We were 300 metres off," said Danilo, pointing to the feed that showed a puff of grey smoke.

The trio were standing next to a white satellite dish connected to Elon Musk's Starlink system. Immediately behind them was a well-developed network of first world war-style trenches, dug beneath a line of bare autumn trees. For months the Russians were a mere kilometre away, hidden in civilian houses and dugouts.

On Wednesday, however, they were staging a withdrawal. The Kremlin was retreating from its positions in Snihurivka and other villages on the right bank of the Dnipro. The ruined city is in a sliver of Mykolaiv oblast, close to the administrative border with the Kherson region and the occupied city of Kherson.

Serhii Khlan, the deputy head of Kherson oblast council, said the Russian army had blown up all of the bridges over a tributary river, the Inhulets, including the Daryivskyi crossing. During the exit from Snihurivika, Russian forces had destroyed a bridge over an empty canal, turning it into an impassable concrete V shape.

"They are panicking," said Khlan. "The occupiers are preparing their withdrawal. They are disabling the bridges to deter our advance." The Russians had beefed up some of their positions on the road south of Snihurivka to give cover to departing troops, he added.

Russia's defence minister confirmed his forces would soon be leaving right-bank Kherson, part of a territory Vladimir Putin "annexed" in September. In the meantime, the Ukrainian army pushed cautiously forward. Military traffic could be seen on the road to the frontline, including T-72 tanks on loaders and a US-supplied Himars long-range artillery system.

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