The Kherson region forms the last crucial component of the “land bridge” from mainland Russia to Crimea. Putin has coveted to occupy Kherson since Moscow invaded the Crimean peninsula and annexed it illegally in 2014. Russia is shoring up its defences in Kherson in anticipation of a Ukrainian counterattack. Pro-Russia officials say civilians are being “evacuated” due to the risk of “massive missile attack” by Kyiv’s troops on a local dam Ukraine officials say Russia is rushing reinforcements and setting up “technical fortifications” in the region. Moscow is mining “civilian housing” in Kherson to boost defensive positions for a looming battle, as per Kyiv.