KYIV, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Ukrainian troops have conducted a “series of successful operations” on the eastern bank of the River Dnipro in the Russian-occupied part of Kherson region and established several bridgeheads, Kyiv’s military said on Friday.
In a statement, the Ukrainian Marines said on their Facebook page that they were continuing to carry out operations on the eastern side of the river. Russia conceded for the first time this week that Ukrainian troops had crossed the river.
The Ukrainian military liberated the city of Kherson, the regional centre, and the area around it on the western bank of the Dnipro in November 2022. The river, a formidable natural barrier, became the dividing line on much of the southern front.
Crossing the Dnipro and transporting across heavy military equipment and supplies could allow Ukrainian troops to open a new line of attack in the south on the most direct land route to Crimea, seized and annexed by Russia in 2014.
Both Russia and Ukraine say they have inflicted heavy losses on the other side during operations in the area.
Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s president’s office, said this week that Ukrainian troops were working to “demilitarize” Crimea and had covered 70% of the distance.
According to Ukrainian military bloggers, Ukrainian forces crossed the Dnipro in small groups in the summer to create an initial foothold around a railway bridge near Kherson and then sought to expand their presence in nearby villages on the east bank, including Krynky.
The advance in Kherson region comes after months of Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the southeast and east that have not produced the breakthrough that many Ukrainians wanted.
Russian forces, which occupy around 17% of Ukraine, are now again on the offensive in the east in places including the Kyiv-held town of Avdiivka and the area near the Moscow-held city of Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian military said in its daily update that fighting was raging along the entire frontline from the south to the east, reporting 72 combat clashes in the last 24 hours.
The fiercest battles were around Avdiivka, Mariinka and Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, it said.
Vitalyi Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, said on television that Russian forces were making a big push towards the town’s industrial zone near a vast coke plant, bringing in reinforcements.
Stock Photo from Ukrainian MOD.