By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Jul 28 (EFE).- The Ukrainian missile strike that took out a key bridge in the Russian-occupied Kherson region has raised hope among residents that an operation to liberate the zone is imminent as the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.
Ukraine is gearing up for a large counter-offensive in Russian-occupied regions of the country’s south and on Wednesday successfully rendered the Antonivsʹkyy bridge useless to vehicles with a targeted missile strike.
The bridge is strategically important in the transport of supplies across the Dnipro into Kherson. In its absence, Russian forces have tried to set up a makeshift pontoon ferry to continue supplying their troops stationed west of the river.
Kherson residents who spoke to Efe welcomed the bombing.
“I hope our guys shell it even more,” Iryna, whose surname, like others interviewed by Efe, is withheld for security reasons, said in a phone call. “You cannot imagine how much we are waiting for our army to liberate us.”
Nataliia, who left the city a few days ago, added: “We are all very happy to hear the news.”
According to their accounts, the humanitarian situation in the city has taken a turn for the worse.
All of its shops are now closed, said Nataliia, adding that people are hawking goods on the pavement to survive.
The region is suffering from a lack of resources, including cash, while prices for basic goods are now running three or four times higher than usual.
The only thing in abundance is the locally grown vegetables and fruit.
The isolation from the Ukrainian markets is leading local producers to financial ruin, however. Viktor, from a southern district of the oblast, described to Efe large abandoned fields of tomatoes.
“Vegetables cost almost nothing but meat and other products are getting very expensive,” he said.
Iryna and her husband Volodymyr, as well as their colleagues from the local KhersonTV channel, have been delivering tons of products they buy thanks to a fundraising program run from the front line villages to the west of Kherson.
They worry the locals will not survive the winter if nothing changes.
“They are trying to grow some wheat but the fields are littered with unexploded bombs and are burning because of the shelling,” Iryna said.
There is a climate of defiance in the city, despite the heavy-handed suppression of protests during the early days of Russia’s occupation.
Nataliia said she believes just a fraction of local people support Russia, and that its troops know they are not welcome.