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Vladimir Putin has been warned it could be the “beginning of his end” if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky scores a critical victory in a hotly-contested city of the country.
Peter Dickinson, editor of the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert Service, warned in an article for the website the campaign to regain control of the “strategically vital” city could have huge implications for whether Russia or Ukraine wins the war.
He wrote: “The unfolding campaign to regain control over this strategically vital southern Ukrainian city is likely to be the most important engagement since the Battle of Kyiv and could prove decisive in determining the ultimate outcome of the war.
“Preparations for a major Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south of the country have been underway since May.
“After weeks of minor advances in the surrounding countryside that have seen Ukrainian forces liberate more than fifty towns and villages, there is now a mounting sense that the Battle of Kherson is about to begin.
“A Ukrainian victory would have huge psychological and practical implications for both sides.
“It would demonstrate to international audiences that the Ukrainian military is more than capable of forcing Russia to retreat from well-established defensive positions and convince Ukraine’s partners to continue providing military and financial support.
“Meanwhile, defeat in Kherson would be personally humiliating for Vladimir Putin and would spark further demoralisation within the ranks of his depleted invasion force.”
Reacting to these comments, Anton Gerashchenko, Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, warned in a post on Twitter: “Kherson is strategically vital. Russians need it for the image of their success and for advancing to Odessa and further.
“If Ukraine retakes it, this might be the beginning of Putin’s end. He knows it, so the fight will be extremely hard.”