MYKOLAIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Western-supplied artillery systems are already making a difference on the ground for Ukraine and it is “just a question of time” before its forces win back significant ground in the south, the governor of the Mykolaiv region said on Wednesday.
Governor Vitaliy Kim, whose region is partially occupied by Russia but remains just one of two that retains significant access to the Black Sea, told Reuters that Ukrainian forces had “some success” in recent weeks in a counterattack in the neighbouring Kherson region.
Asked when Western weapons would start to make a difference on the ground against Russian forces that invaded the country on Feb. 24, he said: “It is already happening … and we will have (more) success.”
“We are talking about artillery,” he said. “It is already working in our region.” He declined to say what specific Western artillery systems were working there.
While both Russia and Ukraine have focused much of their resources in recent weeks on the fight for control of the eastern industrial Donbas region, the fate of Ukraine’s remaining Black Sea coastline in Odesa and Mykolaiv is crucial to ensure the country’s economic future.
To make significant breakthroughs in the south of the country, like taking back the pocket of Kherson Region controlled by Russia above the Dnipro River, Ukraine will likely need more manpower – either by freeing up forces in the east or through additional mobilisation, Kim said.
And Kyiv realises there is still a risk that Russia will make a fresh assault on major cities Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia.
“In the coming months, I think they have some opportunities to attack on Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv. But for now we don’t see any regrouping, any big armies to attack,” Kim said.
While things are moving very slowly at present, “the situation could move very fast,” he said.