Ukraine ramps up offensive in Kherson, shaking Russian defense and gaining critical ground

Written by Jeppe W

Oct.21 - 2023 2:33 PM CET

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In a bold series of military maneuvers, Ukrainian forces have intensified their offensive activity across the Dnieper River, locally known as the Dnipro, signaling a strategic escalation in their efforts to solidify and expand their control on the eastern bank.

This area has been a critical front line in the ongoing conflict for nearly a year, posing significant challenges to both sides.

Ground Gained Amidst Intense Combat

Pro-war Russian military bloggers have reported a series of fresh Ukrainian assaults on the eastern bank, detailing how reconnaissance and sabotage groups have advanced more than a mile inland, temporarily breaching Russian defenses.

The Ukrainian soldiers’ resilience and strategic acumen were evident as they managed to gain a foothold in key areas despite the formidable challenges.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), in its latest update, highlighted discussions among Russian sources about the “larger-than-usual Ukrainian ground operations” that took place on October 19 on the eastern bank of Kherson Oblast.

The independent think tank noted that Ukrainian forces likely maintain a limited presence in areas near the Dnipro River shoreline and the Antonivsky railway bridge.

However, these reports could not be independently verified, and the media Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

Map showing Control of terrain around Kherson and Ukraine

On the Ground: A Closer Look

The initial information about the intensified Ukrainian operations came from the Rybar Telegram channel, run by Mikhail Zvinchuk, a former Spetsnaz GRU officer.

Zvinchuk reported a significant clash in Krynky, a village on the eastern bank, stating that Ukrainian saboteurs attacked and initially gained ground before being repelled by Russian artillery and air strikes.

Further south, in the village of Pishchanivka, Ukrainian forces are reported to be actively engaging Russian troops, with the head of the Kherson occupation administration, Vladimir Saldo, stating that the Ukrainian troops are confined under heavy bombardment.

A Formidable Waterway and a Grinding Counteroffensive

The Dnieper River has proven to be a formidable obstacle, with its wide and fast-flowing waters hindering further advances.

The situation has been exacerbated by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in June, causing severe flooding in the Kherson region.

Despite these challenges, Kyiv has maintained a steady operational tempo, pinning Russian forces in the southern Kherson region while pushing the counteroffensive further west in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts.

The ISW noted that the scale of the Ukrainian attacks and the presence of their forces along the shoreline and near critical infrastructure indicate a significant escalation from previous tactical raids, showcasing Ukraine’s determination to regain control.