Ukrainian troops have crossed the vast River Dnipro into occupied areas of Kherson region and are operating in small groups, Russia conceded on Wednesday, saying it had dispatched more troops to stop them.
Ukraine said on Tuesday it had secured a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro “against all odds”, a potentially major setback for Russian occupation forces in the south where Kyiv is trying to open a new line of attack.
A Ukrainian military spokesperson added on Wednesday that Ukrainian troops were trying to push Russian forces back from the eastern bank of the river, which serves as a formidable natural barrier on the battlefield.
Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed governor of the part of Kherson region which Moscow controls, acknowledged in a statement that Ukrainian forces had managed to cross the river, but said they were taking heavy losses.
Ukrainian forces, he said, were operating in small groups spread over an area from the region’s railway bridge to the village of Krynky, a distance of around 20 km (12 miles). He said they numbered around one and a half companies.
“Our additional forces have now been brought in. The enemy is trapped in (the settlement of) Krynky and a fiery hell has been arranged for him: bombs, rockets, heavy flamethrower systems, artillery shells and drones,” said Saldo.
Citing what he said was first-hand information from Russia’s “Dnepr” military grouping, he said Ukrainian forces were pinned down in basements in the day and predicted the Ukrainian assault would be thwarted.
The village of Krynky lies close to the Dnipro around 30 km northeast of the city of Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured almost exactly a year ago.
Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, described the frontline as “fairly fluid” and said Kyiv’s forces had been putting Russian troops under pressure along the river.
“The pushback from our side is taking place on a line from 3 to 8 km along the entire bank from the water’s edge,” she said.
“For now, we will ask for informational silence … which would allow us to report later on great successes,” she said in televised comments.
Reuters could not independently verify either side’s accounts.