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Ukraine tells Russia ‘retreat or be annihilated’ as Kherson counter-offensive ‘gathers momentum’

Ukraine tells Russia ‘retreat or be annihilated’ as Kherson counter-offensive ‘gathers momentum’

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kraine has warned Russia its forces will be “annihilated” if they don’t retreat from the southern city of Kherson.

British officials said on Thursday that Ukraine’s counter-offensive was “gathering momentum” and that Russian forces were “highly vulnerable” after Ukraine damaged several bridges across the Dnipro river with US-supplied rockets.

In an intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said this meant the Russian-occupied city was “virtually cut off” from other areas of Russian occupation.

It said: “Russia’s 49th Army is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River and now looks highly vulnerable.

“Similarly, Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories.

“Its loss would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to paint the occupation as a success.”

FILE: a car moves past a crater on Kherson’s Antonovsky bridge across the Dnipro

/ AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine’s forces struck the key Antonivsky bridge near Kherson city with long-range missiles again on Wednesday, leaving it unusable in a blow to Russian efforts to hold the major city.

Its defence ministry warned Russia to “retreat or be annihilated”, adding “the choice is theirs”.

“Occupiers should learn how to swim across the Dnipro River,” Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said.

“Or (they) should leave Kherson while it is still possible. There may not be a third warning.”

In a Wednesday evening address, President Zelensky said Ukraine would rebuild the Antonivsky bridge over the Dnipro and other crossings in the region.

“We are doing everything to ensure that the occupying forces do not have any logistical opportunities in our country,” he said.

Russia captured Ukraine’s second-biggest power plant in the eastern Donetsk region on Wednesday, but Ukrainian officials said this was only “a tiny tactical advantage”.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Mr Zelensky, said Moscow appeared to be changing tactics and sending troops to the Melitopol and Zaporizhzhia regions and Kherson.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, earlier tweeted that Russia was concentrating “the maximum number of troops” in the direction of Kherson but gave no details.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is preparing to resume grain exports after a deal was signed last week to allow for grain shipments to pass Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea.

Officials from the UN, Ukraine and Russia gathered on Wednesday in Istanbul to open a centre that should ensure the safe passage of 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine’s ports.

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