Russia admits Ukrainian troops gaining ground
But Moscow’s governor of part of Kherson region says that Kyiv is taking heavy losses
Kyiv/London — Russia conceded for the first time on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces have crossed the vast River Dnipro into occupied areas of Kherson region, but said it sent in more troops to stop them as Kyiv tries to open a new line of attack to annexed Crimea.
Ukraine said on Tuesday it secured a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro “against all odds” in what could be a major setback for Russian occupation forces in the south.
A Ukrainian military spokesperson said on Wednesday that Ukrainian troops are trying to push Russian forces back from the eastern bank of the river, a formidable natural barrier on the battlefield.
Vladimir Saldo, Russian-installed governor of the occupied part of Kherson region, acknowledged in a statement that Ukrainian forces crossed the river, but said they taking heavy losses.
“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 flame-thrower systems, artillery shells and drones,” said Saldo.
Citing what he called first-hand information from Russia’s “Dnepr” military group, he said Ukrainian forces are pinned down in basements by day. He said the Ukrainian assault will be thwarted.
The village of Krynky is near the Dnipro, about 30km northeast of the city of Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured about a year ago.
Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, described the front line 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 3km to 8km 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.
Russia has largely held Kyiv’s counteroffensive at bay in the southeast, but an advance in occupied Kherson region could spread their defences thinner and step up pressure.
“Against all the odds, Ukraine’s defence forces have gained a foothold on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro,” President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff said on Tuesday.
The official, Andriy Yermak, said that Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which it launched in June, is “developing” and Kyiv knows “how to achieve victory”.
Russia’s military said last week its forces thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to forge a bridgehead on the eastern bank and nearby islands, inflicting heavy losses.
Yermak made his remarks during a trip to the US, an ally of Kyiv that has provided vital military assistance since the February 2022 invasion, though questions now swirl over the sustainability of such aid.
Kyiv's counteroffensive began about five months ago, and has retaken several villages but no big settlements.
Russian troops seized Kherson region in the early days of their invasion, but retreated a year ago from the city of Kherson and other positions on the western side of the river.
This week, in an unusual development, two Russian state news agencies published alerts saying Moscow was moving troops to “more favourable positions” east of the river, wording it has used before to describe retreats.
The agencies withdrew the news report quickly. Russia’s defence ministry said it is false.
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