KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine has recaptured over 1,170 square kilometres (450 square miles) of land in its southern Kherson region since launching the start of its counter-assault against Russia in late August, a military spokesperson said on Sunday.
Ukraine achieved lightning success with its offensive in the north-east, but its drive in the south to wipe out a Russian foothold on the west bank of the vast Dnipro river has been a longer, more laboured affair.
Southern military command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk said that Ukraine was making progress on the Kherson front, but that lots needed to be done to secure newly recaptured territories.
“Work is continuing on consolidation of territory, clearing it and conducting stabilising operations, as the settlements we enter contain many surprises left by the (Russian) occupiers,” she said on Ukrainian national television.
“As of today, from the beginning of the counter-offensive, over 1,170 square kilometres have been liberated in the Kherson direction,” Humeniuk said.
Ukrainian officials have long talked up the priority of recapturing Kherson, a flat, agricultural region which Moscow captured in its near-entirety in the early days of its invasion.
Any major territorial losses in Kherson would threaten Russia’s supply lines to the strategically significant Crimean peninsula further south, the return of which Kyiv has coveted since its occupation by Russia in 2014.
(Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)