Ukraine claims breakthrough in south after warning Russians to 'flee for their lives'

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Ed Arnold, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a British defence and security think tank, said the push represented the decisive phase of Ukraine's counteroffensive. “We have been expecting this for a number of months,” he said. “Shaping or preparatory activity has been ongoing for around two months, where Ukraine has targeted Russian positions, ammunitions supplies to try to degrade their artillery strength and also bridges over the Dnipro River, which is just to the east of Kherson city. “So, now what we expect to see is a Ukrainian counteroffensive to take at least the city of Kherson and potentially more territory to the east of the river.” Mr Arnold said the city as important because it was one of the first places taken by Russian forces at the start of the conflict in February. “[It is] also politically significant because the Ukrainian government and President Zelenskyy has to show the West he is able to use all of these western-supplied weapons systems to actually take back territory. So that is really important. “And at the moment, once Kherson, at least the city, is in Ukrainian control that means there are no Russian forces to the north or west of the Dnipro River, which essentially dissects the whole of Ukraine,” Mr Arnold said. “It protects Mykolaiv and Odesa further down the coast. It puts a lot of pressure on Russian forces in the south and particularly Crimea.”