Russia may launch southern offensive to try to regain momentum - Ukraine general

FILE PHOTO: Kherson region during Ukraine-Russia conflict

KYIV (Reuters) - Russia may launch an offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson to try to wrest back momentum from Kyiv and has been visibly building up forces, Ukrainian General Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday.

Russia holds swathes of Ukraine's south that it captured in the early phases of its Feb. 24 invasion, but Kyiv has vowed to mount a major counter-offensive and used sophisticated western weapons to hit Russian supply lines and ammo dumps.

Hromov said Russia had brought in a large amount of weapons and hardware to the northeast of the strategically important southern region of Kherson, much of which is occupied by Russia.

"It's possible the enemy may or will try to carry out offensive operations deep into our territory in order to seize the initiative and threaten the development of our success in order to force the (Ukrainian army) to stop expanding bridgeheads and go on the defensive," he told a news conference.

In the east, he said Ukraine had improved its tactical position around the eastern city of Sloviansk, recapturing two villages, but that Russian forces had been trying to take the eastern city of Avdiivka and village of Pisky.

Ukrainian forces had been forced to concede territory there, switching to defending south of the city of Avdiivka and leaving the Butivka coal mine, he said.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by William Maclean, Kirsten Donovan)