Ongoing clashes have been reported after Ukrainian landing party crossed the Dnipro River by the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson. The bridge was destroyed during Russian withdrawals from Kherson city in Fall 2022 during Ukrainian counter offensive operations, making the only viable option to cross the Dnipro River either pontoon bridges or boats.
Russians currently control the left bank of the River, while Ukrainian forces control the right bank, which is where Kherson city is situated.
??Footage of a BTR-82A firing at the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the area of ????the Antonovsky Bridge after a number of AFU troops crossed the Dniper and entrenched themselves on the opposing side. pic.twitter.com/VpNUodfkde
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) June 25, 2023
Russian military Telegram channels have reported that Ukrainian forces have been able to establish a small presence along the river bank by the bridge. Telegram channel “Two Majors” has reported that “The enemy holds a small foothold on our bank for at least three days. The units of the Russian Armed Forces withdrew from the area, as the constant action of enemy artillery and SOF created a threat of encirclement of our forces. They retreated with combat, neighbouring units came to the rescue. As a result of the fighting, the Russian Armed Forces suffered losses.”
The channel later posted that “The area under the Antonovsky Bridge (about 150 meters) is also used by the enemy to supply and rotate groups that have settled in the “Hotel”, as well as in the “Dachas” area – in this area the enemy is using Polish-made mortars against the positions of our troops. According to the latest information, reinforcements continue to arrive to enemy units, the total number of manpower in the bridge area at the moment is up to 100 people.”
“For several days, artillery, including heavy flamethrower systems, attacked the enemy in this area, but, as colleagues rightly noted, only tactical aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces can solve this problem; ground forces do not present an effective solution,” the channel added.
There seems to be heavy fighting near the Antonovsky Bridge in the Kherson region this evening. Original source writes: "Left bank … 25.06 … situation" pic.twitter.com/rJwxJQLG2Q
— marqs (@MarQs__) June 25, 2023
Likewise, the popular Russian military Telegram “RVvoenkor” has reported that “The fighting at the Antonovsky Bridge does not stop: the Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to create a bridgehead on our coast, the landing party is really looking forward to aviation support.”
“After the dam was blown up and the coastal territories of the Dnieper were flooded, our troops and the enemy left their flooded positions, but when the water began to leave, the Armed Forces of Ukraine were the first to climb onto our bank and occupy a small area near the bridge. It is also obvious that the enemy knew that inexperienced soldiers were placed on this sector of defense and then continued to try to build on success by gaining a foothold on our coast.”
Both channels have emphasized the need for close air support, reporting that ground forces are unable to reach the riverbank due to artillery and mortar fire.
"Russia is shelling positions of the Ukrainians, also on the -by Russia occupied- Southern side of the Dnipro"
00:00 = 46.634002,32.722619
00:06 = 46.691528 32.732898
00:24 = 46.660711, 32.697890
GeoLocated by @EjShahid
— GeoConfirmed (@GeoConfirmed) April 22, 2023
This does not mark the first time Ukrainian landing parties have crossed at this point. Back in April, Ukrainian forces carried out a small-scale amphibious assault across the Dnipro to residential areas along the left bank in the village of Dachy, which is where the bridge is located. The landing force was met by Russian artillery fire, which targeted several houses along the shoreline. As I had reported earlier, that particular operation, at face value, was nothing new or particularly significant.
Up to this point, none of Ukraine’s operations across the river have established, or were meant to establish, a permanent bridgehead for some sort of offensive, although it is safe to assume that they were being carried out to probe the area. The left bank of the Dnipro in the Kherson region is largely made up of marshy islands and wetlands, where small houses line the shores. There is no significant road infrastructure, cover, or strategic high grounds. Holding such an area would be extremely difficult considering the presence of Russian fire control and the lack of supply routes. In almost every instance of Ukrainian forces crossing the river, they have been met by artillery fire that has driven them back.
I also noted that all of this is not to say that Ukraine has been successful in continuously crossing the river and preparing for larger, more frequent amphibious operations against the left bank, especially in the context of their ongoing Summer offensive. Russian milblogger Yury Kotyenok noted that Ukrainian forces remain “active in the Bolshoi Potemkin area and near Alyosheki, sending in DRGs on boats and regularly making their presence known on the shore.” With the Nova Kakhovka Dam being blown, the river banks had risen, pushing back established Russian defenses in the area.
The intentions and long term effects of this operations remain unknown at this time. As stated, all previous cross-river operations have ended with Ukrainian forces return back to the right bank.