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Ukraine says southern offensive complicated by weather and terrain

The Kyiv official says the wet weather and terrain in the Kherson region have made the Ukrainian offensive there more difficult than a previous offensive in Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces in the southern Kherson region is proving more difficult than in the northeast due to humid weather and terrain, Ukraine’s defense minister said.

Kyiv forces are increasing pressure on Russian troops in the strategically important Kherson region, which has been partially occupied by Moscow since the beginning of its invasion, threatening Russian President Vladimir Putin with another major setback on the ground. of battle.

“First of all, the south of Ukraine is an agricultural region and we have a lot of irrigation and water supply canals, and the Russians use them as trenches,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told a conference on Wednesday. press. “It’s more convenient for them.”

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“The second reason is weather conditions. This is the rainy season and it is very difficult to use wheeled combat transport vehicles,” he said, adding that this reduced the options for the Ukrainian armed forces.

“The counter-offensive campaign in the Kherson direction is more difficult than in the Kharkiv direction,” he added.

Earlier, a Moscow-based official in the region said at least 70,000 people fled their homes in the province in the space of a week, after pro-Russian authorities urged residents to leave amid the Ukrainian offensive.

“I am sure that more than 70,000 people left in a week since the crossings were organized,” Vladimir Saldo told a regional television channel, referring to efforts to move residents to Russian-controlled areas on the fringe. left of the Dniper River.

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He added that this number may be higher as people could have used their own boats to cross the river instead of organized ferries.

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Kyiv has compared this movement of people to “deportations”.

Saldo also said entry to the region’s right bank area was banned for a period of seven days “due to the tense situation on the line of contact,” according to a statement on his social media.

He also claimed there was an “immediate danger of flooding” and “massive destruction of civilian infrastructure”, and said Kyiv was preparing an attack on the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of planning to blow up the facility, crucial to the water supply of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, to trigger a devastating flood.

nuclear concerns

The prospect of a new setback for Russia in southern Ukraine after its troops withdrew from Kyiv and then in the northeast has fueled fears that Moscow could use a nuclear weapon. Putin has repeatedly warned that Russia has the right to defend itself using all its weapons.

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However, Reznikov said: “My personal opinion is that Putin will not use nuclear weapons.”

Moscow, which has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, has launched waves of conventional missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since October 10. The escalation followed a series of Russian battlefield defeats in September and an explosion at the Kerch Bridge, which links occupied Crimea to Russia.

Kyiv says the Russian strikes damaged up to 40 percent of the country’s power system.

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Temperatures can drop well below freezing in winter, now only weeks away, and Kyiv has urged foreign partners to increase their air defense deliveries to help.

Reznikov said that in the next 10 days, he expected Ukraine to receive sophisticated anti-aircraft National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) provided by the United States.

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