UKRAINE/RUSSIA: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a note of warning to Russian soldiers, urging them to flee for their lives as Ukrainian troops launched an offensive near the city of Kherson. Zelensky said that Ukraine’s military was taking back their territory though Russia said the assault attack had failed.
Ukraine’s bold offensive emerges at a time when the conflict with Russia has reached a deadly blockade as thousands have perished, millions displaced, food grain and gas supply networks tarnished, and threats made to Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, igniting fears of a radiation “catastrophe”.
Zelensky, in his routine nightly address late on Monday, spoke to his war-torn nation and promised that Ukrainian troops would chase Russian forces “to the border”.
“If they want to survive – it’s time for the Russian military to run away. Go home,” he said.
“Ukraine is taking back its own,” Zelensky said.
In response to the offensive in the Kherson region, senior adviser to Zelenskiy Oleksiy Arestovych claimed that Russian defences had been “broken through in a few hours.”
Additionally, he stated that Ukrainian forces were attacking ferries that Russia was using to supply a small area of land in the Kherson region on the west bank of the Dnipro river.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s national public broadcaster Suspilne reported explosions in the Kherson area, and city residents on social media platforms posted gunfire and explosions but could not confirm its origins.
In an early Tuesday update, the military general staff of Ukraine reported clashes across the nation but provided no details on the Kherson offensive.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry assured that the “enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably” as it circulated reports of Ukrainian troops suffering heavy casualties in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions.
Russian shelling of the Ukrainian-occupied Mykolaiv region has resulted in the killing of at least two people, injuring 24, as well as causing damage to property and buildings, city officials said on Monday.
In other news, Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, the Zaporizhzhia plant, has been caught in the shellfire between the two warring nations, provoking fears of a radiation disaster. Captured by Russian forces but manned by Ukrainian staff, shellfire damage surrounding the plant has prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct an inspection and assessment of the plant.
The mission, headed by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, will assess working conditions and examine security and safety measures, according to the Vienna-based organisation.
Additionally, it will “perform urgent safeguards activities,” which refers to monitoring nuclear material.
The Kremlin informed the international community that the IAEA mission was “necessary” and urged it to put pressure on Ukraine to ease military tensions at the plant. The Russian foreign ministry stated that the mission must carry out its tasks in a politically neutral manner.
In order to prevent it from becoming a target, the United States, Ukraine, and the United Nations have demanded that military personnel and equipment be removed from the plant.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House, declared categorically: “We continue to believe that a controlled shutdown of the nuclear reactors at Zaporizhzhia would be the safest and least risky option in the near term.”