Ukraine’s military has said it is trying to expand its foothold on the Russian-occupied eastern bank of the Dnipro river, with Russian forces offering “fierce resistance” despite suffering “significant losses.”

For more than three months now, Ukrainian Marines have been deeply dug-in and – backed by masses of strike drones – have managed to hold ground first captured in mid-October.

Pushing Russian forces back from the river's shores has been a priority for Kyiv, which has been trying to protect the city of Kherson from Russian shelling.

But Ukraine’s forces have so far struggled to make any further substantial gains inland.

Ukraine will “continue measures aimed at expanding its bridgehead” on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro, the army said in a daily briefing on Monday.

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“Despite significant losses, the enemy continues to try to drive our units from their positions,” it said.

According to a number of independent observers, no matter what Russian forces try to do they haven’t been able to dislodge the Ukrainians who will “still be there in weeks and months to come.”

A Dec. 16 New York Times article described the Ukrainian Marines fighting to hold the Dnipro River bridgehead as being on a “suicide mission.”

It quoted Ukrainian troops questioning the sense of holding forward positions, cut off from the rest of Kyiv’s forces by a major river, and facing brutal Russian air and artillery bombardment.

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As Kyiv Post reported earlier this month, Russian forces have suffered such heavy losses that some troops are reportedly refusing to attack.

According to multiple Ukrainian and Russian sources, Moscow’s attempts to wipe out the bridgehead employing substantial ground attacks have virtually come to a halt.

One indicator, first reported by the independent UNIAN news agency, was that Ukrainian strike drones and on-call artillery had made movement through the thick pine woods and dirt roads that crisscross the lowlands around the left bank village of Krynky and the Ukrainian Marines’ positions too dangerous.

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The news agency reported on Jan. 14 that commanders of Russia’s 18th Combined Arms Army which operates in that sector, had repurposed its 17th Tank Regiment, potentially its most powerful attack formation, to use its top-end T-90 tanks to recover “dozens” of disabled combat vehicles which littered the road around Krynky.

“The fact that an entire tank regiment with potentially dozens of [Russia’s most advanced] T-90 tank have been given the role of military tow trucks, is an indicator of the intensity of Russian losses around Krynky,” the report said.

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