Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his troops will push Russian soldiers back “to the border” after Ukraine launched a counterattack to retake territory in the south.
“We will push them to the border. To our border, the line of which has not changed. The invaders know it well,” said the Ukrainian president in his nightly address.
Ukrainian troops broke through Russian defences on the frontline in several areas near the city of Kherson, said a senior adviser to Mr Zelenskyy on Monday.
Oleksiy Arestovych said the defences were breached in just “a few hours”.
Kherson, a port city of a quarter of a million inhabitants on the right bank of the lower Dnipro river, was the first major city and only regional capital to have fallen to Russian forces since the February invasion.
Russian forces appear more vulnerable here than on other fronts, The Telegraph reports, with an estimated 20,000 troops in a pocket west of the river reliant on three bridges for resupply.
Recapturing Kherson would prove to Ukrainians in other occupied cities that they can yet be liberated. And an advance here could also reassure Western allies who, facing surging energy prices and rising inflation at home, may tire of providing costly support to a war that threatens to develop into a grinding stalemate.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, cautioned against “super-sensational announcements” about a counteroffensive.
But it is clear that there is new optimism in the air.
“If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee,” Mr Zelenskyy has said.
Further east, fears over a potential accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant persist, but an international safety team is finally on the way after days of negotiations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said staff would assess damage to the facility – the biggest nuclear power station in Europe – as well as checking on safety and security systems, and the working conditions of the Ukrainian staff.