War in Ukraine: “We are advancing meter by meter”, says a Ukrainian soldier on the Kherson front

In the sky of the Kherson region resounds the sound of Ukrainian artillery fire. It does not take more than a few minutes for the response of the Russian troops to arrive. “Course ! We have to leave, they say it’s dangerous!“It is Sergeant Yuri, alias “Snowman” who holds this Ukrainian position, five kilometers from the front line.”Snowman, it’s because I have salt and pepper hair, so the guys gave me that name.“, he explains with a big smile in his voice.

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On Wednesday, October 19, Russia decided to evacuate – described as “deportation” by kyiv – the inhabitants of Kherson, the only regional capital conquered by Moscow at the start of the war. The situation is there”tense” admits the Russian general Surovikin, in charge of the offensive in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are only a few kilometers away and the Russian army has been losing ground since the start of the counter-offensive. The battles rage for Yuri and his fellow warriors.

On his position, Yuri has a shelter, dug in the ground, surrounded by trenches and protected by a sheet metal roof and sandbags. This is one of the most advanced posts on the Kherson front. “I observe where the shells have fallen. There, look, it is the alignment of the combat positions, and there, it is the limit between our troops and the enemy“, he shows on a map, “she’s not far“.

Yuri is designated about fifteen kilometers from Kherson. “We advance gradually, meter by meter“, he explains, adding that “it’s not going as fast as on the other side, it’s going slowly but surely“. When he speaks of “the other side”, Yuri evokes along the Dnieper river, 150 kilometers to the east. Where the Ukrainian breakthroughs are effective, dazzling and the territorial gains consolidated.

For almost a month and a half, dozens of villages have been reconquered, day after day, by the men of the 60th infantry battalion. The fights are rough. The enemy is on the defensive, cut off from its rear base, while the Ukrainians are galvanized by victories.

“The Russians are not trained and the new ‘soldiers’ mobilized do not know how to wage war. In front of us, there is quantity but not quality.”

Edward, Ukrainian soldier

at franceinfo

Edouard allows himself a short day of rest, about fifteen kilometers from the front before going to fight. He, too, is motivated by recent Ukrainian advances. “Opposite, there are now fewer professionals. They died or left to fight elsewhere. Most of the people used are alcoholics or drug addicts, which is to say that they are useless“, he says. According to him, these new soldiers “have no motivation, they arrived in foreign territory, they understood that they had been released like cannon chairs and that they had taken hostage a country and its inhabitants.

But the Ukrainians are also suffering the wear and tear of the fighting and suffering significant losses. After eight months on the Kherson front, half of the 3,000-5,000 soldiers of Edward’s battalion were dead or wounded.

Ukraine: reconquest on the Kherson front – Report by Thibault Lefèvre and Arthur Gerbault

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