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.
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.
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.
Comment: Accounts of this Ukrainian crossing of the Dnipro at Kherson are all based on what’s put out on Russian social media. The Ukrainians haven’t said jack about it. At first, I thought this was no more than another reconnaissance in force or raid. But the presence of effective air defense and electronic warfare capabilities indicates this could develop into much more. The use of the bridge as cover is brilliant. What the Russians referred to as three tanks in the initial crossing is more likely to be some kind of mobile EW platform to counter Russian drones up close.
The number of Ukrainian troops ferried across grew from around 50 to 100 rather quickly. That’s still not much, even if they have EW and mortar support with them on the left bank. Still, they have substantial air defense and artillery support on the right bank.
The timing for this crossing was perfect. The Dnipro flooding washed away Russian defensive positions and not a few of the Russians manning those defenses. The Ukrainians beat the Russians to the draw at occupying those positions. The Russians apparently still have fire control of the substantial bridge over the much smaller Konka River leading to Oleshky. But they not be in a position to blow that bridge. Beyond Oleshky, it’s not a difficult drive south to Crimea or east to Melitopol. If this develops into something more than a raid or diversion, all those Russian defensive lines to the east will be outflanked.
Today, Rybar gave an update on the situation.
Armed Forces attacks on the left bank of the Dnieper: battles near Antonovsky bridge – situation by the end of June 27, 2023
In the area of the Antonovsky bridge, clashes with units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, entrenched under the remains of the crossing near Dachi on the banks of the Dnieper, continue. Today, the aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces tried to strike at the shelters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on left bank of the river, but without success.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine deployed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Sadove and Pravdeyne to hunt for Russian combat aircraft. This complicated the work of front-line aviation in terms of targets in this area. Their search, detection and destruction by Lancet drones and FPV drones is also complicated: when approaching the contact area, operators lose the signal. This may be related to the activities of the departments electronic warfare.
Also, from the Dnipropetrovsk region, the transfer of units of the 93rd brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the Antonovsky bridge and the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station began on an emergency basis. The 93rd brigade was recovering from the fighting in the Bakhmut area. Pontoon crossings and engineering teams have already been spotted in Antonovka APU.
The main forces should arrive in the coming days to carry out an operation to force the Dnieper River in the area of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric station and capture Novaya Kakhovka. Taking into account the existing bridgehead at the Antonovsky Bridge and the certain distraction of Russian troops to this area, the strike from Cossack’s side would be quite logical.
Further comment: If Rybar is right about the pending arrival of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, this could turn into a major axis of the Ukrainian summer counteroffensive. Maybe it was part of the original plan or maybe it was simply seizing the opportunity created when the Russian left bank defenses were washed away by the blowing of the Kakhovka Dam.