KYIV – Ukraine said on Friday it had carried out successful attacks on the Russian-occupied eastern bank of the Dnipro river, days after Moscow admitted Kyiv’s forces had gained a foothold there.
A sustained Ukrainian breakthrough across the front-line waterway would mark a significant success for Kyiv, whose wider counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion has so far failed to turn the tide of the 21-month war.
“The Defence Forces of Ukraine conducted a series of successful operations on the left bank of the Dnipro River, along the Kherson front,” Ukraine’s Marine Corps said in a statement on social media.
Kyiv said its forces had “managed to gain a foothold on several bridgeheads.”
In a follow-up statement it added: “heavy fighting continues.”
The rival armies have been entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnipro since Russia withdrew from the western part of Kherson region last November, in an embarrassing setback for the Kremlin.
That was the last major territorial change in the conflict, with both sides having since failed to make progress despite multiple offensives.
Russia’s defence ministry later appeared to reject Kyiv’s claims of a breakthrough. “The enemy (is) on the right (western) bank of the Dnipro,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it had thwarted Ukrainian attempts to land on unspecified islands.
Both sides said they had inflicted heavy losses on the other – claims AFP could not verify.
Since their withdrawal, Russian forces have continuously shelled Ukrainian towns and villages across the river, forcing civilian evacuations.
The governor of Kherson region said early on Friday that one person was killed in the latest Russian shelling, following at least three deaths the day before.
Earlier this week, the Russian-installed official responsible for occupied Kherson conceded for the first time that some Ukrainian units had crossed the Dnipro and established positions on the eastern bank.
He claimed Kyiv’s troops were “blocked” in Krynky, a small village on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, and were facing a “fiery hell” from Russian artillery, rockets and drones.
The official, Mr Vladimir Saldo, said Ukraine had only been able to cross the river by “throwing meat” – a euphemism for military assaults that involve huge numbers of manpower and encounter heavy losses.