Ukraine pushes back in Kherson as Zelensky visits east

Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the country's south, claiming to have pushed back Russian troops near three villages in the Kherson region, as President Volodymyr Zelensky made his first visit to the embattled east since the start of the war.

Zelensky, who on Monday will press EU leaders to break a deadlock on a new round of sanctions against Russia, a day earlier walked the streets of the devastated Kharkiv region's capital in a bullet-proof vest.
While one-third of the northeastern region remains under Russian control, "We will for sure liberate the entire area," Zelensky said after the visit, also revealing he had fired the city's security chief in a rare public rebuke.
Since failing to capture Kyiv in the war's early stages, Russia's army has narrowed its focus to eastern Ukraine, hammering cities with relentless artillery and missile barrages as it seeks to consolidate areas under its control.
But Ukrainian forces pushed back on the weekend, forcing Russian troops into "unfavourable positions" around the villages of Andriyivka, Lozovo and Bilohorka in Kherson, the country's military leadership said in a statement.
"Kherson, hold on. We're close!" Ukraine's general staff tweeted Sunday as their forces counterattacked in the only region of the country fully controlled by Russian troops.

Kherson, which borders Crimea, was taken by Russian forces in March and Moscow-backed officials in the region have recently pushed for annexation.
While limited in nature, the attack could have the effect of stretching Russian forces, with the general staff claiming the move had forced Moscow to send reserves to the area.
Zelensky, meanwhile, said Kharkiv's security chief had been sacked "for not working to defend the city...

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