Ukraine’s campaign to retake the occupied Kherson region is “gathering pace”, Western military sources say.
A key bridge into the city of Kherson is now out of action after Ukrainian forces struck it with long-range rockets supplied by the US.
UK defence officials say the city is now “virtually cut off from other occupied territories”.
Strategically located west of the Dnipro river, the city was the first in the war to fall to Moscow’s forces.
Ukrainian forces fired at Kherson’s Antonivskiy Bridge using a Himars artillery rocket system on Tuesday which, according to Western military sources, has left the crossing “completely unusable”.
Only a pockmarked wreck is said to remain of the half-mile long bridge, one of two key routes spanning the Dnipro river which have both now been hit.
Moscow depended on the crossings to resupply their troops stationed west of the river, and are now at risk of becoming isolated from the rest of Russia’s occupying forces.
Military sources described Kherson as “politically the nearest Russia has to a jewel in the crown of its occupation” – and its loss, they say, “would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to paint the occupation as a success”.
In a daily intelligence update, UK defence officials said the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the region was “gathering momentum”, adding that Kyiv’s forces had “likely established a bridgehead south of the Ingulets River, which forms the northern boundary of Russian occupied Kherson”.
Moscow is now “moving the maximum number of troops in the Kherson direction”, said Oleksiy Danilov, who is secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, on Wednesday evening.
In eastern Donetsk, Russian forces said they had captured the country’s second-largest power station – the Vuhlehirsk coal-fired plant.