Ukrainian forces have achieved their biggest breakthrough in the country’s south since Russia invaded, pushing across Russian lines on Monday and advancing along the Dnieper River, recapturing a number of villages along the way and threatening supply lines for thousands of Russian troops.
Ukraine’s advance targets supply lines for as many as 25,000 Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnieper. Ukraine has already destroyed the main bridges, forcing Russian forces to use makeshift crossings. A substantial advance downriver could cut them off entirely.
Kyiv gave little information about the gains in the south, but Russian sources acknowledged that Ukrainian troops had advanced dozens of kilometres along the river’s west bank, recapturing a number of villages along the way.
“There’s a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnieper River, and right there, in that region, there was a breakthrough. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.
Dudchany is about 30km (18.6 miles) south of where the front stood before the breakthrough, indicating the fastest advance of the war so far in the south, where Russian forces had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.
Soldiers from Ukraine’s 128th Mountain Assault Brigade raised the country’s blue and yellow flag in Myrolyubivka, a village between the former front and the Dnieper, according to a video released by the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, posted a photo of Ukrainian soldiers posing with their flag draping a golden statue of an angel in a village he said was Mikhailivka, on the riverbank about 20km (12.4 miles) beyond the previous front.
Serhiy Khlan, a Kherson regional council member, also listed Osokorivka, Mykhailivka, Khreschenikvka and Zoloto Balka as villages recaptured, or where Ukrainian troops had been photographed.
“It means that our armed forces are moving powerfully along the banks of the Dnieper nearer to Beryslav,” he said.
The breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian successes in the east against Russia, even as Moscow has tried to raise the stakes by annexing territory, ordering mobilisation and threatening nuclear retaliation.