Two weeks after a humiliating retreating from Kherson, Russia is pounding the newly-liberated port city with artillery as it digs in along defensive lines across the Dnipro River.
Ukraine is striking back at Russian troops with its own long-distance weapons, and Ukrainian officers say they want to capitalise on their current momentum, despite fighting being expected to slow in the bitter cold winter months.
The Russian withdrawal from the only provincial capital it gained in nine months of war was one of Vladimir Putin’s most significant defeats. The Ukrainian armed forces believe it is planning its next move, giving the advancing forces a need to act swiftly.
Ukraine is now able to strike deeper into Russian-controlled territory thanks to the supply of long-range weapons, opening the possibility of pushing toward Crimea – which has been in Russian hands since 2014, but that Mr Zelensky has set his sights on. Earlier in the week, it emerged that Ukrainian armed forces were looking to flush occupying forces from Kinburn Spit on the mouth of the Dnipro, securing the shipping route for grain and giving them a hold on the southern side of the river.
Russia is continuing to establish fortifications, including trenches, along its front line, suggesting it is preparing for fresh waves of counter-offensives.
Mick Ryan, a former Australian Major General and military strategist, said: “The armed forces of Ukraine seized the initiative in this war some time ago. They have momentum. There is no way that they will want to waste that.”
However, the same tactical advantage that pushed Russia into retreat in Kherson may now serve as a roadblock to further Ukrainian advances. River crossings have been blown up by both sides, and pushing across the natural boundary would require complex logistics, analysts say.