Ukraine’s troops are on a roll – and now they have the key city of Kherson in their sights

Kherson, Ukraine

The Ukrainian army is on a roll – they are taking advantage of Russia’s faltering military, and now they have the city of Kherson in their sights.

We are taken by an artillery team on a mission down a road that is scarred and littered with the debris from months of brutal fighting.

As we hurtle along, we pass a Russian army truck which has been recently destroyed.

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But you can still see the cargo of looted goods on the back – fridges, freezers and other white goods.

They soon reach the launch site about 20 km from the port and the soldiers quickly jump into action.

The grad rockets screech into the sky – burning their deadly signature and whoosh towards their target.

Ukrainian soldiers are keeping up the pressure after Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu announced the Kremlin’s forces were falling back to the east side of the Dnipro River.

It is a significant defeat.

Kherson, Ukraine

Thousands of soldiers potentially trapped

It’s estimated there could be thousands of Russian soldiers still on the west bank. They are potentially trapped.

But many of their positions – along the route we see shallow dugouts – have now been deserted.

Ukrainian firepower has pushed them out of this area.

Kherson, Ukraine

Artur, who’s parents are still trapped in occupied Kherson city, hopes it will not be long before they’re reunited.

“Now our infantry is clearing the villages from the remnants of the Russian troops, which have already begun the active phase of retreat,” he said.

“But they do not retreat completely and on a large scale, they also resist as before, but with a smaller number of people.”

Ukrainian soldier Artur

‘Everything was shot, from the leg to the head’

Ukrainian progress has been stymied by mines and bridges that have been blown, but they are winning here on the southern front.

Videos on social media show soldiers in newly liberated areas – the Ukrainian flag proudly on display.

But even as new places are freed, they’re still trying to comprehend the full horror of Russia’s occupation.

I meet Volodymyr in one village, and he shows me where he buried his uncle whilst the Russians were in control.

Volodymyr in Kherson, Ukraine
Volodymyr in Kherson, Ukraine

Ukrainian war crimes investigators have now exhumed the body. He tells me he was shot multiple times by Russian soldiers.

“He was lying on the bed. His right side was all shot through. Everything was shot, from the leg to the head. The entire right side,” he explained.

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There are so many stories like this. The pathologist at the morgue where Volodymyr’s uncle was taken says widespread evidence of war crimes is clear.

“These bodies come to us with signs of violent death – debris, bullet wounds. There are many bodies.”

And as more places are liberated it’s expected more atrocities will be uncovered, but there is still a long way to go in this fight, even though victory here on this southern front may not be far away.

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