President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff has confirmed the establishment of bridgeheads by Ukrainian Marines east of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson, paving the way to future operations to recapture Crimea.

“Against all odds, Ukraine's Defense Forces have gained a foothold on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro,” Andriy Yermak said on Tuesday evening at the Hudson Institute during a US diplomatic visit.

He added that this is part of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, and it would pave the way to Ukraine’s liberation of Russian-occupied Crimea.

“Step by step, they are demilitarizing Crimea. We have covered 70% of the distance. And our counteroffensive is developing,” he said.

This is the first official confirmation of the recent developments in Kherson. The statement could be interpreted as Ukraine’s attempt to consolidate US support by demonstrating positive results amidst the US Congress’s uncertain funding decision.

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On Wednesday afternoon, Russia also for the first time admitted that “small groups” of Ukrainian troops had established positions on the Russian-held side of the Dnipro river.

Some Ukrainian soldiers 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 Moscow-installed head of Ukraine's Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, said in a post on Telegram.

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Russian state media earlier this week reported the withdrawal of Russian troops further inland. However, they later retracted the statements and said they were “issued by mistake.”

Reports of Ukrainian bridgeheads across the river first surfaced in late October, with Ukrainian Marines capturing the village of Krynky, close to 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) inland from the Dnipro in Ukraine’s Kherson Region.

Analysts placed the estimation of Ukrainian troops at 300-500 soldiers and less than 20 vehicles of all types, according to an earlier Kyiv Post report.

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Soldiers in the Kherson region also cited heavy Russian defenses against Ukrainian advances.

“The Russians are well prepared. They have solid lines of defense,” said a soldier identifying himself as Armyanchik.

Pro-Russian former militia leader Igor Girkin, imprisoned by Russia on extremism charges, expressed concerns over the Ukrainian bridgeheads and claimed it would threaten Crimea in an earlier prison letter

Ukraine’s top commander, Valery Zaluzhny, previously stated that recapturing Crimea was part of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and they expected to reach Crimea within four months during the summer. However, field conditions have prevented Ukrainian forces from reaching this goal.

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Freedomfighter
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Slava Ukraini!

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