Ukrainian marines traded fire with Russian forces on the left bank of the Dnipro River on Wednesday – it appears Vladimir Putin’s forces are struggling to push them back.
Moscow’s counterattacks have been hampered by the low, marshy ground meaning tanks and heavy equipment are unable to enter the area.
Although elements of Ukraine’s 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th Marine Brigades are believed to have crossed the river on October 22, Russia just acknowledged yesterday that Kyiv’s forces have secured a small bridgehead.
Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of the occupied Kherson Oblast, said that Ukraine’s forces had sustained heavy losses and promised to rain “fiery hell” down on them.
The admission came just two days after Russian state media bizarrely published reports of a Russian retreat in the area before swiftly retracting the stories and apologising.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak told the Hudson Institute think-tank in the US that Kyiv’s fighters now had a “foothold” across the river.
He added: “Step by step, Ukraine’s armed forces are demilitarising Crimea. We have covered 70 percent of the distance.”
In addition, Russian military bloggers reported that Ukrainian forces began bringing heavy equipment across the river for the first time over the past few days. Unverified videos posted to social media appeared to show Ukrainian troops crossing the river unopposed.
A major war goal for Ukraine is the recapture of Crimea which was annexed by Russia in 2014. To do that, Ukraine would need to recapture all of neighbouring Kherson which fell in the early days of the 2022 invasion.
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Ukraine has struggled to recapture a significant amount of territory since it launched its latest counteroffensive in June of this year.
A significant breakthrough on the southern front would be a major victory for Ukraine as the winter weather approaches. Already the so-called mud season has begun limited movement of heavy equipment by both sides.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia launched several assaults on the eastern front as Moscow tried to regain the initiative particularly around Bakhmut.
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