Ukraine’s Marine command in a Friday statement claimed its fighters destroyed hundreds of Russian combat vehicles in battles on the east bank of the Dnipro River, following Kyiv’s first official announcement this Tuesday acknowledging that one month ago its forces had captured a bridgehead there – an important goal in Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Friday’s statement was the first official announcement by Kyiv of Russian losses, resulting from Russian attempts, thus far unsuccessful, to eliminate fortified Kyiv footholds on the eastern (left) bank of Ukraine’s biggest waterway, in the southern Kherson region.

“Thanks to the courage and professionalism of Ukrainian Marines, in cooperation with other units of the Defense Forces, (Ukrainian Marines) managed to gain a foothold on several bridgeheads,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces Marine Corps posted on its Facebook channel on Friday.

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On Nov. 13, Kremlin media had initially reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense had decided to regroup troops in the Kherson region, before quickly retracting the reports.

“Having assessed the situation, the command of the Dnipro group decided to move the troops to more advantageous positions east of the Dnipro,” the deleted statements from Russian media outlets TASS and RIA Novosti had said. But they soon backtracked saying that their earlier reports were “issued by mistake.”

Similar language had been used to announce previous Russian troop retreats in the wake of Ukrainian attacks last year in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions that Russia had occupied at the beginning of its February 2022 Ukraine invasion.

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Unofficial Ukrainian military information platforms first reported Marines using small boats to cross the Dnipro in mid-October.

Russian milbloggers quickly confirmed a growing Marine presence and Ukrainian infantry digging in and slowly expanding positions.

The Marine command statement said Ukrainian troops “had carried out a series of successful actions on the left bank of the Dnieper River in the Kherson direction…(and) managed to gain a foothold in several bridgeheads.”

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There was no information about troop strength or when, precisely, the enclaves were first established.

According to the Marines’ statement, Ukrainian troops fighting on the left bank of the Dnipro inflicted serious losses on Russian forces in the sector, particularly in personnel and heavy weapons.

Estimated Russian service personnel losses were given at 1,216 soldiers killed and 2,217 wounded. Russian weapons and equipment destroyed or put out of action included 24 tanks, 89 artillery systems and mortars, 135 trucks and cars, 48 armored fighting vehicles, 9 rocket artillery launchers, 14 boats, 15 electronics interception or radar systems, and 4 command posts, the Ukrainian Marine announcement claimed.

A “combined electronic warfare unit of the Marine Corps neutralized 135 (Russian) FPV (kamikaze strike) drones and 5 operational-tactical (long range reconnaissance) UAVs,” the statement said.

Kyiv Post was unable to confirm the Ukrainian Marines’ claims. Anecdotal reports by Ukrainian milbloggers and military information platforms over the past four weeks have told of wet, marshy terrain and heavy Ukrainian interdiction artillery fire hitting and halting Russian pushes towards the Ukrainian bridgeheads.

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Drone operators confirmed by Kyiv Post to be operating in the Kherson sector have, since early November, reported wide use of crowd-sourced drone jamming equipment by volunteer teams deployed to Kherson sector, and successful intercepts and destruction of as many as 20 Russian drones in a day.

The Marine statement confirmed reports widespread by military bloggers on both sides of the fighting of dense Ukrainian drone surveillance around the bridgeheads, especially over the few hard roads leading through forests and wetlands in the river lowlands.

 “Ukrainian marines carry out fire strikes on the Left Bank of the Kherson region and carry out actions with the aim of destroying the enemy,” the statement said.

A statement released later in the morning by Ukraine’s Army General Staff described the bridgeheads’ operational stance as static, saying that “(D)istraction attacks, raids and reconnaissance operations are being carried out. Enemy logistics routes for the delivery of ammunition and supplies are being identified. Deployment locations of Russian occupation troops and equipment, artillery locations as well, with the goal of their future destruction using strike systems. Heavy battles are in progress.”

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Some Russian military bloggers on Friday reported the Ukrainian troops were dug in in two enclaves on the left bank and under heavy pressure by Russian air force air strikes. The Kremlin-linked Voenniyy Osvedomitel’ posted video of what it called a dual guided glide bomb strike against Marine positions near the village of Krynky.

Other Russian military bloggers partially confirmed the Ukrainian General Staff and Marine claims of successful strikes hitting Kremlin troops needed against the Ukrainian cross-river incursion.

A Friday post by Romanov_92, a blogger reportedly serving with Russian troops in the Kherson sector, said that on Nov. 11 a Ukrainian massed precision-guided rocket strike fired by US-made HIMARS launchers stationed on the right bank of the river struck a truck and automobile column carrying troops from Russia’s 1st Battalion, 35th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade near the village of Gladky, killing dozens of soldiers. The Ukrainian strike’s success was the result of poor security and sloppy staff work, and an investigation to determine possible officer negligence was in progress, the report said.

According to open-source reports, the Ukrainian Marines hold two bridgeheads; one clustered around the villages of Pishchanivka, Poime and Pidstepne some 10 kilometers (6 miles) upstream from the Kyiv-controlled right bank city of Kherson, and a second toehold centered around Krynky village, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) further upriver.

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Unit bloggers from Ukraine’s 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th Marine Brigades have claimed formation elements are across the river and fighting. Russian military bloggers have confirmed the presence of 35th and 36th Marines and, on Wednesday, claimed Russian forces captured at least eight Marines from the 36th Brigade. 

On Friday the Russian milblogger DvaMajora, citing purported eyewitnesses, said that social media reports that Ukrainian forces were constructing a military pontoon bridge near the village of Krynky were inaccurate, and that Ukrainian forces on the left bank still depend on small boats moving back and forth across the river for supply.

Although the Ukrainian incursion across the Dnipro had been in progress and heavily reported for weeks, the first formal acknowledgement that Kyiv troops had crossed the river and established bridgeheads was on Tuesday, when head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak told reporters covering his trip to Washington D.C. that “Defense Forces had seized a bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro.”

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The first Ukrainian cross-river raids, by special operations troops aboard small boats, were reported in open sources in May. Official Russian army statements in October acknowledged Kyiv forces were operating on the east bank of the Dnipro,  but characterized them as weak in strength and each in turn eliminated by Russian artillery and air strikes.

On Oct. 30 the Kremlin sacked the general commanding all Russian forces in the southern sector, reportedly, because he and his staff concealed from their Moscow bosses the fact that the Ukrainian crossing was for the first time in strength.

In a Nov. 9 report, ISW said that the Russian military command will likely face challenges in transferring combat-capable reinforcements to respond to Ukrainian operations on the left bank of the Kherson region.

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Comments (2)

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Imokru2
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Officially, Russia says that Ukraine made landings on the left bank near Kherson, but were quickly eliminated by Motherland forces.
Then we learn that the Russian general in the south of Ukraine has been fired. What are we to believe?
Sounds like typical Russian bs to me.
As for the General, he is unable to speak right now. He is slowly floating down on his back, looking up at an open window receding into the distance.

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Imokru2
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Let’s say that you are on a raft floating downstream to the sea. The riverbank on your left is the “left bank”.
As the Dneiper enters Ukraine, it flows generally north to south, so you have a west bank and an east bank. The problem with this is that near Kherson, the river flows generally west to east.
Let’s go with left bank and right bank, which is the same everywhere.

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