In southern Ukraine, the scars of the Russian incursion are everywhere.
Dmytro Pletenchuk, head of public affairs for the Mykolaiv regional government, was on his way to work when the seat of government was hit.
“This building is like a monument of the Russian world,” Pletenchuk told Euronews as he stood in the remains of his office.
Some 36 people were killed in the building. On the same day, Mykolaiv airport was also hit.
Pletenchuk says it’s part of a larger strategy. “They want to rebuild the USSR,” he said.
“And without Ukraine… [it] is not possible. And they cannot live in freedom. But we can. And that’s what we want. And we fight.
He added that he wanted all Russian soldiers to leave the region: “From Donbass, from Crimea…Crimea is Ukraine”.
But to achieve this, Ukrainian troops will have to retake Kherson – one of Ukraine’s most important ports and the first city to be taken by Russia.
“Kherson is very important. This is the only land route to Crimea, the first,” said Nesquik, commander of the battalion fighting for Kherson.
“Drinking water also comes from there to Crimea via the Dnieper River”.
Nesquik was born in Kherson. The 26-year-old is now in charge of 900 men currently trying to retake his hometown.
And the news of the advance of Ukrainian troops in the north boosts morale in the region.
“I think we’ll pick it up again by the fall,” Nesquik told Euronews.
“Russia has a very strong border with us and suffers losses everywhere; they attach great importance to the eastern part of Ukraine, the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Kherson is no problem to release. You must remember that there are regions where it will be much more difficult [for us] to work.”