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Ukraine says troops have foothold on eastern bank of river near Kherson
15 November 2023, 16:54
The Dnieper has become a natural dividing line along the southern battlefront.
A top Ukrainian official said the country’s troops have established a beachhead on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River near Kherson, an important advance in bridging one of Russia’s most significant strategic barriers in the war.
Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office, provided no details but confirmed the development that has been widely discussed in military forums over the past month.
“Against all odds, Ukraine’s defence forces have gained a foothold on the left bank of the Dnieper,” Mr Yermak told the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
Ever since Russian forces left the city of Kherson and the territory around it in November 2022, the only area they controlled on the west bank of the Dnieper, the river became a natural dividing line along the southern battlefront, preventing Ukrainian troops from advancing further into the Kherson region and towards Russian-annexed Crimea.
The barrier also allowed Russia to concentrate more troops in the heavily mined and fortified Zaporizhzhia region and eastern Ukraine.
Since the summer, Ukrainian forces have crossed the Dnieper in small groups to create a foothold near the Kherson bridge and more recently sought to expand their presence in nearby villages on the east bank, including Krynky.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in Washington said Mr Yermak’s comments confirm its own assessments over the past month that Ukraine was conducting larger-than-usual ground operations on the eastern bank of the river and appeared to be holding its positions and supplying troops in the Russian-controlled Kherson region.
Satellite imagery from Monday showed forces advancing on Krynky, one of the areas on the eastern bank of the Dnieper about 22 miles north-east of the city of Kherson, the ISW said.
Russian military bloggers have reported intense fighting near Krynky.
The Moscow-appointed governor for the Russia-occupied part of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, said Ukrainian forces lost up to two battalions crossing the Dnieper and trying to maintain their foothold on the left bank.
On his Telegram channel, he claimed that Ukrainian forces holed up in Krynky were facing a “fiery hell” of intense bombardment and were being destroyed “on a large scale”.
The Ukrainian forces have long established positions in several areas on the eastern bank of the Dnieper and sought to expand them, using boats to ferry supplies.
Ukraine lost control over almost the entire Kherson region, including the city of Kherson, in March 2022, right after the full-scale invasion started.
Russian troops advanced from the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, facing almost no resistance even though the Ukraine border was supposed to be heavily guarded.
Crossing the Dnieper could allow Ukraine to outflank Russia without having to break through the heavily mined and fortified front line in the Zaporizhzhia region.
It would also provide the most direct land route to Crimea, where Armiansk, one of the two gateways to the peninsula, lies about 50 miles to the south without any significant fortifications in the way.
In other developments, at least two civilians were killed and 14 wounded in Ukraine in the past day, the president’s office said.
In the eastern Donetsk region, Russians launched a massive missile attack on Selydove that wounded three people and damaged eight high-rise buildings and others.
In the Kherson region, seven people were wounded during shelling of residential areas of Beryslav and the city of Kherson.
Drones killed a 26-year-old man in Nikopol, on the opposite bank of the river from the area near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
In the Kharkiv region, shelling near Izium struck a car and killed a 33-year-old driver and wounded a passenger.