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Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow's forces 'effectively crippled' by huge losses, Ben Wallace says

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 29/07/2022 Marcus Parekh, Grace Millimaci, Josh White, Berny Torre
Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - EPA © EPA Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - EPA

Russian forces are "effectively crippled" as Vladimir Putin insists on a "meat grinder" war strategy, Ben Wallace has said. 

The Defence Secretary made the comments after US analysts estimated that more than 75,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine - the equivalent to almost the entire British Army.

Mr Wallace told BBC’s Today programme: “Putin hasn’t changed from his desire to occupy the whole of Ukraine, take Kyiv and Odesa... but his army has been effectively crippled by huge amounts of losses. Over 25,000 dead. Maybe twice as many injured.

“When I talk about meat grinder, which is what they’re doing, is that they are resorting to a sort of Soviet tactic... moving very slowly - metres, not miles, a day, in some parts.

“And on the top of the meat grinder... they are recruiting from the poorest districts in Russia, and the ethnic minorities, and they are using mercenaries, shoving these people in with very little regard to the outcome, grinding forward.”

He said that longer-range Western weapons are “now having a material effect”, and that the Russians “are operating their army at roughly about 40 to 50 per cent combat effective”.  

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04:17 PM

Americans caught fighting for Ukraine together in jail, relatives say

Two Americans captured while fighting with the Ukrainian Army apparently have been sent to a prison where they are spending all their time together, the family of one of the men said.

Alex Drueke, who was captured with fellow veteran and Alabama resident Andy Huynh in early June, told his mother about the transfer in a telephone call, according to a statement issued late Thursday by the Drueke family.

"He sounded strong and clear-minded. He said he and Andy have been moved to a traditional prison, that they are no longer in solitary confinement but that they are together now 24/7," said Lois "Bunny" Drueke, his mother.

04:14 PM

Barrack destroyed by prison shelling in separatist-held Donetsk

A destroyed barrack at Olenivka prison in a separatist held area of Donetsk - AP © AP A destroyed barrack at Olenivka prison in a separatist held area of Donetsk - AP

04:09 PM

Blood-splattered streets after deadly Mykolaiv bombing

Police investigators inspect the body of a person killed during a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv - REUTERS © REUTERS Police investigators inspect the body of a person killed during a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv - REUTERS Shoes and blood of a person killed during a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv are seen on a street - REUTERS © Provided by The Telegraph Shoes and blood of a person killed during a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv are seen on a street - REUTERS

03:58 PM

Russia and Ukraine both launch criminal probes into prison strike deaths

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office has opened a pre-trial investigation into an attack that is said to have killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Both sides have accused the other of carrying out the shelling on a eastern prison in a Donetsk territory held by Russian-backed separatists.

A statement from the military forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said: "Investigators are currently investigating the scene. The Russian Investigative Committee will take measures to establish all the circumstances of the incident and the Ukrainian nationalists involved in this crime."

03:51 PM

Russia shows Himars fragments after POW prison shelling

Fragments of US-made HIMARS rockets shown by the Russian defence ministry after the shelling at Olenivka prison in the Donetsk Region - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS © ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS Fragments of US-made HIMARS rockets shown by the Russian defence ministry after the shelling at Olenivka prison in the Donetsk Region - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

Kyiv has denied shelling a prison Moscow said killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war and wounded 75 more in an eastern separatist-held region of Donetsk.

Kremlin and separatist officials said US-supplied Himars rocket launchers were used to strike the prison in Olenivka holding Ukrainian POWs captured in the south in May.

The Russian defence ministry has shown fragments of US-made HIMARS rockets after the shelling.

03:45 PM

Separatist 'envoy' welcomed to North Korean 'war crimes' tribunal

Kremlin-backed separatists controlling parts of the eastern region of Donetsk have sent their "ambassador to Russia" Olga Makeeva to meet her North Korean counterpart Sin Hong-chul in Pyongyang.

A Telegram message by the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said they held a "working meeting" where "the parties discussed in detail the possibility of further cooperation in all sectors of the national economy: industry, agriculture, construction, trade, healthcare, education, culture and others.

"For his part, the Ambassador of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) expressed his readiness to provide full support to the government of the DPR in the implementation of the agreements reached on bilateral cooperation."

02:00 PM

People ride bikes past body after Russian strikes in Mykolaiv

People cycle past the body of a person killed during a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv - REUTERS © REUTERS People cycle past the body of a person killed during a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv - REUTERS

Residents of Mykolaiv ride their bikes past the body of  person killed in Russian missile strikes in southern Ukraine on Friday.

At least four died  and seven people were injured in the region after a series of "cluster shells" struck at around 10am.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said at least some of the wounded had been near a public transport stop at the time.

Earlier, the mayor of Mykolaiv Oleksandr Sienkevych said: "The arrival of cluster shells in one of Mykolaiv districts.

"There are victims. Ambulances have already arrived. An air alert has been announced! I ask everyone to stay in shelters!"

01:52 PM

Zelensky takes hospital selfie with injured Ukrainian serviceman in Odesa

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes a selfie with an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a hospital in Odesa - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE © UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes a selfie with an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a hospital in Odesa - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE

12:47 PM

'Russia must respect the deal' - UK ambassador to Ukraine in Odesa

 UK ambassador to Ukraine Simmons visits sea port before restarting grain export in Odesa - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE © UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE  UK ambassador to Ukraine Simmons visits sea port before restarting grain export in Odesa - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE

Melinda Simmons said "Russia must respect the deal" as she and her fellow G7 ambassadors arrived in Odesa with Turkey where food is being readied to be shipped out of Ukraine.

12:42 PM

Russia committed 'petrifying war crime' by shelling prison, Ukraine minister says

Ukraine's minister for foreign affairs has accused Russia of "another petrifying war crime" by shelling Olenivka prison in a Moscow-held region of Donetsk. 

The Kremlin and Kyiv have exchanged blame for the blast, which reportedly killed at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Moscow said it was hit by a US-supplied weapon.

12:38 PM

Turkish official backs up Russia's denial of stealing Ukrainian flour

An official at a Turkish grains trader has backed up Russia's denial of stealing Ukrainian barley and flour which has been found docked in a Lebanese port. 

The Ukrainian Embassy in Lebanon on Thursday told Reuters that a US-sanctioned Syrian ship had docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli "carrying 5,000 tonnes of barley and 5,000 tonnes of flour that we suspect was taken from Ukrainian stores."

The official at Loyal Agro Co Ltd said the grain came from Russia, not Ukraine, and that the company had sought to import 5,000 tonnes of the flour on the ship to Lebanon to sell to private buyers, not to the Lebanese government.

The cargo had not been offloaded and Lebanese customs had not yet granted an import licence as customs was in the process of investigating the Ukrainian claims, the official said, claiming that the company had provided Lebanese customs with documentation showing the source of the cargo was legitimate.

The Russian embassy in Beirut said it had "no information regarding the Syrian vessel or a cargo brought to Lebanon by a private company." Moscow has denied Ukrainian allegations that it has stolen Ukrainian grain.

12:25 PM

Pictures as 17 vessels now loaded with grain and ready to depart Odesa

Seventeen vessels that have been blockaded in Odesa port for five months are already loaded with grain with another now being loaded, Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told reporters at the site.

He said he hoped the first vessels would start leaving port by the end of this week, Reuters reports.

The ship Navi-Star sits full of grain since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began five months ago as it waits to sail from the Odesa Sea Port - David Goldman/AP

The ship Navi-Star sits full of grain since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began five months ago as it waits to sail from the Odesa Sea Port - David Goldman/AP
© David Goldman/AP

12:21 PM

DHL quits Russia over 'technical issues'

DHL will withdraw from transportation services in Russia from September 1, citing technical issues with IT systems and infrastructure, operational difficulties and legal constraints. 

DHL International will only provide express-delivery services from Russia to other countries, the company said. 

12:15 PM

North Macedonia donating Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine

North Macedonia plans to donate Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine as it seeks to modernise its own military to meet NATO standards, its defence ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said Ukraine will receive the unspecified number of tanks belonging to the western Balkan country's tank battalion which is in the process of being upgraded.

"Taking into account this situation and the requirements of the Ukrainian defence ministry, the government has decided that a certain quantity of these (tank) capacities will be donated to Ukraine, in line with its needs," the statement said.

North Macedonia, an ex-Yugoslav republic, is a NATO member and candidate to join the EU.

12:05 PM

Germany sending 16 'Beaver' bridge-layer tanks to Ukraine

Germany is sending 16 BIBER bridge-layer tanks to Ukrainian forces, its defence ministry has said.

"The BIBER will enable Ukrainian troops to cross waters or obstacles in combat," it said.

"The delivery of the first six systems will take place this year, starting in autumn. Ten more systems will follow next year.

The German chancellor Olaf Scholz was forced to U-turn over an initial refusal to send tanks and heavy weaponry to Ukraine.

The Biber (German for beaver) is a tank equipped with a horizontal bridge laying system instead of a turret.

11:48 AM

West won't make cease-fire concessions, Kremlin says

The West isn't any closer to making concessions to ensure a cease-fire in the war in Ukraine, Moscow has claimed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied "no" when asked by reporters whether Moscow has noticed a change in the West's position, TASS news agency reported.

He was responding to comments from Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba, who in an article for the New York Times called on the West to "reject Russia's fake peace proposals" and said "audible calls for a cease-fire... are badly misplaced."

11:43 AM

Zelensky watches as grain loaded on to Turkish ship near Odesa

President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited a port in southern Ukraine to oversee grain being loaded for export onto a Turkish ship.

He said: "The first vessel, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war. This is a Turkish vessel.

"We are ready to export Ukrainian grain. We are waiting for signals from our partners regarding the start of transportation.

"It is important for us to remain the guarantor of world food security. As long as someone, blocking the Black Sea, takes their lives from other states, we give them the opportunity to survive."

The presidency made the announcement on Friday following a deal with Russia brokered by the UN and Turkey to unblock Ukraine's Black Sea delivery routes.

Video footage from the Chornomorsk port released by the presidency showed him in front of a ship called Polarnet.

The port is outside the city of Odesa in the southern region.

11:38 AM

Ukraine court reduces life sentence of war crimes Russian soldier

An appeals court has reduced the life sentence of the first Russian soldier to be convicted of a war crimes since the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine to 15 years.

The trial was seen an early test of Kyiv's ability to conduct fair trials during the ongoing conflict amid thousands of complex war crimes cases.

Critics said the sentencing of Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old contract soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian and was convicted in May, was unduly harsh, given that he confessed to the crime, said he was following orders and expressed remorse.

His defense lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, had appealed to the court to reduce the sentence to ten years. He said it was highly likely Shishimarin would be returned to Russia in a prisoner exchange.

11:32 AM

Blinken and Lavrov will arrange prison swap call soon, says Russia

Moscow will soon to propose a time for a call with US secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss a prisoner swap, said Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Blinken has said Washington had made a "substantial offer" to obtain the release of US basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, both detained in Russia.

A source said that Washington was willing to exchange convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, jailed in the United States, as part of such a deal.

Blinken and Lavrov have not spoken since Russia invaded Ukraine.

11:12 AM

Ukraine denies prison attack Russia says killed at least 40 POWs

Ukrainian forces have denied a prison attack on a prison in Donetsk which Russia said killed at least 40 POWs in the separatist-held eastern territory.

Moscow's defence ministry said  75 people were injured and at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners were killed when missiles were launched from a US-made rocket launch system today.

Ukraine's military blamed the attack on  Olenivka Prison on Russian forces.

"The armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out targeted artillery shelling of a correctional institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were also held," the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.

"In this way, the Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals - to accuse Ukraine of committing 'war crimes', as well as to hide the torture of prisoners and executions..."

11:05 AM

Belarus recalls its ambassador to 'hostile and unfriendly' Britain

Belarus has recalled its ambassador to Britain over its "hostile and unfriendly" actions including sanctions on its companies, a ban on national airline Belavia and restrictions on Belarusian state media.

The Kremlin-ally's foreign ministry said the UK had adopted policies that were "systematically aimed at causing maximum damage to Belarusian citizens and legal entities."

Belarus' foreign ministry also attacked what it called the "political theatre" of Britain's domestic politics and called on politicians to "work not for their personal rating, but for the benefit of British people."

Ties between Belarus and the West have plunged since the country's leader, Alexander Lukashenko, cracked down hard on the opposition after a disputed 2020 presidential election. Belarus also allowed Russia to use its territory to launch a major prong of its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

10:51 AM

Emmanuel Macron, Mohammed bin Salman to work to 'ease effects' of Ukraine war

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to work "to ease the effects" of the war in Ukraine during talks in Paris, the French presidency said on Friday.

"The President and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia underlined the need to bring an end to this conflict and intensify their cooperation to ease the effects in Europe, the Middle East and the wider world," a statement said.

Aides to the French president had indicated before the talks that Macron planned to urge Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to help bring down crude prices.

10:29 AM

Fires rage as shelling continues in Kharkiv

Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - HANDOUT/AFP

Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - HANDOUT/AFP
© HANDOUT/AFP

10:16 AM

Moscow will propose time for call with Antony Blinken - Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow will soon propose a date for a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Mr Blinken said on Wednesday he planned to hold a conversation with Mr Lavrov to discuss an exchange of prisoners held in Russian and American jails.

09:55 AM

How do Russian casualties in this war compare?

More than 75,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine, according to new classified US intelligence, a loss equivalent to almost the entire British Army.

If accurate, the figure would equate to half the 150,000 Russian troops reported to have been committed to the Ukrainian invasion, a staggering figure that points to an “exceptionally deadly war”, according to analysts.

But how does that figure compare to other conflicts? 

 You can read our report on the staggering losses among the Russian army from our Moscow correspondent Nataliya Vasilyeva here.

09:23 AM

'Four killed' in Russian attack on Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv

At least four people have been killed and seven wounded in a Russian missile strike on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, the regional governor said.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on the Telegram messaging app that at least some of the wounded had been near a public transport stop.

09:03 AM

Ukrainian Azovstal fighters 'killed by Ukrainian shelling' - separatists

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say that at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war captured during the fighting for Mariupol have been killed by Ukrainian shelling.

Daniil Bezsonov, a spokesman for the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, said that at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 130 were injured Friday when Ukrainian shelling hit a prison in the town of Olenivka.

"Forty Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement, adding that eight employees of the detention centre were also injured.

The Ukrainian troops were taken prisoner after the fierce fighting for Ukraine's Azov Sea port of Mariupol, where they holed up at the giant Azovstal steel mill for months.

It has not been possible to independently verify the separatists claims.

Replay Video

08:47 AM

Life goes on in Kyiv

Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - David Goldman /AP

Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today - David Goldman /AP
© David Goldman /AP

08:25 AM

'I am a freedom fighter who will work tirelessly to defeat Putin'

The British people can trust me to do what is right and necessary on Ukraine, and to defend our freedom at home and abroad, says Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss, in a column for the Telegraph.

The Ukrainian people are fighting heroically to defend more than just their homeland. They are fighting in part for sovereignty and freedom, challenging authoritarians who would trample it underfoot. Relenting now would send a terrible message to enemies of self-determination and democracy. The United Kingdom has stood side-by-side with Ukraine in its darkest hour, and as prime minister, I will make sure we remain steadfast in our support.

In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, I worked with Boris Johnson to rally our Nato allies in providing weapons, aid and diplomatic support to Ukraine. I led our G7 partners in targeting Russia with the toughest sanctions ever on a major economy. I dispatched war crimes experts to investigate the crimes committed by Putin’s army and supported the victims of his callous weaponisation of food.

I am the person who can be trusted to work relentlessly to ensure a Ukrainian victory and Russia’s strategic defeat, however long it takes. As prime minister, I will be Ukraine’s greatest friend, and will be completely committed to ensuring Volodymyr Zelensky prevails and Vladimir Putin fails.

You can read Ms Truss' exclusive column in full here

08:01 AM

UK defence spending 'declining' - Ben Wallace

Defence spending is declining, and by 2026 the UK would go from being the leader in Europe to down to about eighth, Ben Wallace has said.

The Defence Secretary was questioned on Sky News about Liz Truss' pledge to increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP, which is going to cost between £20 and 25 billion.

Mr Wallace and Ms Truss supporter said: "The defence spending increase, that is by 2030. That is saying that we need to grow the defence budget to be on a 3pc of GDP by 2030.

"We are currently declining. We are forecast around 2026 to go below 2pc of GDP, taking us from being the leader in Europe to down to about eighth in European defence spending, which would not be a sign of British leadership and not allow us to keep ourselves and indeed our allies safe."

He added: "On that commitment, the funding would really start rising in 2025. So, there would be time to deal with the cost-of-living crisis that we have now and to use, what her commitments currently are, to address the issues."

07:49 AM

Russia is failing in many areas of Ukraine war - Ben Wallace

Russia is failing in "many areas" in its war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin might seek to change strategy again, Ben Wallace has said.

"The Russians are failing at the moment on the ground in many areas ... Putin's plan A, B, and C has failed and he may look to plan D," Mr Wallace told Sky News. 

07:24 AM

Dramatic explosion as Kharkiv park is hit by Russian missile

Replay Video

07:01 AM

MoD comments on Wagner's likely front-line role

Russian private military firm Wagner has likely been allocated responsibility for specific sectors of the front line in eastern Ukraine, possibly as Russia is facing a major shortage of combat infantry, Britain's Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Friday.

"This is a significant change from the previous employment of the group since 2015, when it typically undertook missions distinct from overt, large-scale regular Russian military activity," MoD said in a regular intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

It also said that Wagner's forces are highly unlikely to be sufficient to make a significant difference in the trajectory of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

05:08 AM

Fears of 'second phase of ground operations'

More than 10 Russian missiles also hit the Chernihiv region northeast of Kyiv, regional Governor Vyacheslav Chausov told Ukrainian TV. Like Kyiv, Chernihiv had not been targeted for weeks.

"This was Russia offering greetings on Ukraine’s Day of State Sovereignty," he said, adding there were concerns about a "second phase of ground operations by the enemy".

The North district command of the Ukrainian armed forces said more than 20 missiles had been fired at the Chernihiv region bordering Russia from a base in Belarus – Russia's ally.

In the south, Ukraine said its planes struck five Russian strongholds around the city of Kherson and another nearby city, where it is focusing its biggest counter-offensive since Russia's invasion began.

04:59 AM

Attack shatters sense of normalcy in Kyiv

A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in the Vyshhorod district on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine - AP Photo/David Goldman © AP Photo/David Goldman A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in the Vyshhorod district on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine - AP Photo/David Goldman

Fifteen people were injured when missiles hit military installations in the Vyshhorod district on the edge of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, Kyiv regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Air-raid sirens blared as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed parliament alongside visiting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, as Ukraine marked its Day of Ukrainian Statehood with a public holiday for the first time on Thursday.

"It doesn’t matter with what Russia threatens us; whether it’s air-raid sirens or something else; what is important is that we make other countries fall in love with our Ukrainian firmness," Mr Zelensky said.

The attack shattered the sense of normalcy that has returned to life in Kyiv since Russian forces abandoned attempts to capture the city in the first weeks of the war, in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

03:40 AM

Live from Ukraine: Day 4 of our special podcast episodes

This week, Ukraine: The Latest host David Knowles, and our Defence and Security Editor, Dominic Nicholls, are in Ukraine, meeting prominent politicians, visiting some significant locations of the war so far, and speaking to those who are experiencing the struggle firsthand to hear their stories.

In our fourth episode from Ukraine, David visits a market in central Kyiv, and Dominic is joined by Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olga Stefanishyna.

02:57 AM

Truss: I'll call Zelensky first

Liz Truss on Thursday night described herself as a “freedom fighter” on Ukraine, telling Conservative Party members they could trust her to do all she can to ensure Vladimir Putin is defeated, Daniel Martin writes.

The Foreign Secretary said she would make Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, the first foreign leader she calls if she is chosen as the next prime minister, pledging to follow in Boris Johnson’s footsteps and be Kyiv’s “greatest friend”.

Ms Truss said she would urge G7 nations to provide more lethal and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and “commit completely to ensuring Putin fails and suffers a strategic defeat, and that Russia is constrained in the future”.

She also pledged to rewrite the integrated defence and security review to focus on threats from Russia and an “increasingly assertive” China, which will include a promise to spend three per cent of GDP on defence by 2030.

Read more: Liz Truss: I’ll do what is right and necessary on Ukraine, and defend our freedom

Liz Truss said she would be “completely committed” to a Ukrainian victory over Russia - EPA © EPA Liz Truss said she would be “completely committed” to a Ukrainian victory over Russia - EPA

02:14 AM

Kherson residents fear major urban battle

Civilians have begun to leave Kherson amid fears of a major urban battle between the occupying Russian garrison and an approaching Ukrainian counter-offensive, Verity Bowman and Roland Oliphant write.

The exodus came as posters of the US-supplied Himars weapons system appeared on the city’s streets, urging Russian soldiers to leave.

“No one in Kherson feels safe,” said Alexander Smurikov, a 22-year-old who left with his mother and younger sisters on Wednesday.

“There was a base 500 metres from my home. [Russian soldiers] would walk around, smoke our cigarettes and spit. The Russians march like it is their land, but I bet it will not be much longer. Ukraine is coming back.

“I am exhausted and scared for my Dad, he stayed behind at our home. There is no connection with him and my grandparents. It is dangerous to drive through Ukraine, but we had to leave before the fighting got closer.”

Read more: Kherson’s partisans tell the Russians: ‘Can’t leave? Himars will help you’

02:04 AM

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