“It was only a few months ago that Putin identified the Kherson region as part of Russia itself,” he added, citing a statement from Moscow in late September that it had annexed the Kherson region along with Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya. It came after Russia organized referendums that were labeled illegal and manipulated by Kiev and the West.
Tuck said it was also a boost for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “because it is an indicator that Ukraine’s past gains in the Northeast were not just one-offs and that there is more momentum behind his country’s military efforts.”
Mykolaiv missile attack
However, the war is far from over.
Russia fires as many as 20,000 artillery rounds a day, according to a senior US defense official, while Ukraine fires 4,000 to 7,000 rounds daily.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in a briefing note Thursday that the wet, muddy weather that had hit Russia’s supply lines so hard at the start of the war had returned, adding that the harsh winter of Ukraine again stand in the way of major progress.
And the toll for civilians shows no signs of easing.
At least six people were killed and three injured in a Russian rocket attack just after 3 a.m. on an apartment building in the city of Mykolaiv, about 85 miles west of the city of Kherson, local officials said.
“It is the next war crime of the Russian occupiers, we have six victims and they are just civilians,” Dmytro Pletenchuk, spokesman for the Regional Military Administration of Mykolaiv, told NBC News at the scene.
There have been only 45 days without shelling in Mykolaiv since the start of the war, he said. Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians.
Ludmyla, 54, a kindergarten teacher who lives in the block of flats that got shot at night but spent the night in a different part of town, said: “I saw on the internet that the whole world saw that it was our house that hit. We’re okay, we’re alive, but it’s very, very sad for the people who have died.”
As the cleanup continued and the dead were carried off the scene in body bags, residents took what they could from their damaged homes, while a local charity distributed food and local children fed pigeons and played on swings.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack on a house was a “cynical response” to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.
“Russia is not giving up its despicable tactics. And we will not give up our fight. The occupiers will be held accountable for any crime against Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.
Marc Smith reported from Mykolaiv, and Patrick Smith, Matthew Mulligan, Bianca Britton and Henry Austin reported from London.