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ISW: Ukraine prepares for ground operations on east bank of Dnipro River

Ukrainian forces have created several bridgeheads on the east bank of the river in the Kherson Oblast, which could serve as a base for continuing the attack against Russian defenses.
ISW 17 Nov
Assessed control of terrain around Kherson as of 17 November, 2023. Credit: ISW.
ISW: Ukraine prepares for ground operations on east bank of Dnipro River

Ukrainian Armed Forces control ten square kilometers on the east bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson Oblast (southern Ukraine), the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces resupply their positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River in the Russian-occupied part of the Kherson Oblast, despite Russia’s attempts to hinder them. Furthermore, there are reports of an increase in the number of Ukrainian troops on the east bank of the Dnipro River in recent weeks, according to the ISW.

On 17 November, the Ukrainian Marine Corps Command and the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces confirmed that Ukrainian marines have secured several bridgeheads on the east bank and are conducting actions to expand these positions.

According to the US military doctrine, a bridgehead is “an area on the enemy’s side of the water obstacle that is large enough to accommodate the majority of the crossing force, has adequate terrain to permit the defense of the crossing sites, provides security to crossing forces from enemy direct fire, and provides a base for continuing the attack.” The official Ukrainian acknowledgment of the positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River as bridgeheads indicates that the Ukrainian command assesses that these positions are sufficient for continuing ground operations in the Russian-controlled part of the Kherson Oblast on the east bank, according to the ISW.

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According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, one of the main operational objectives for Ukrainian ground operations on the east bank is to prevent Russian shelling of Ukrainian civilians on the west bank of the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Kherson Oblast, particularly Kherson City.

The 152-mm tube artillery systems that the Russian army uses to shell residential areas of Ukrainian towns and villages on the west bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson Oblast have an approximate range of 25 kilometers, the ISW reported.

According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Ukrainian troops on the east bank “are conducting diversionary actions, raids, and reconnaissance and are particularly surveilling Russian positions for intelligence on Russian logistics and ammunition concentrations.”

Russia created a solid line of fortifications on the east bank of the Kherson Oblast, according to the ISW. A Ukrainian soldier operating on the east bank of the Kherson Oblast characterized Russian defensive positions as “elaborate dugouts that [Russian forces] constructed over months” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on 15 November.

Other takeaways from the ISW report:

  • Russian forces appear to be applying lessons learned from attempts to man Russian multilayered defenses in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast during the Ukrainian counteroffensive to current Russian defensive operations in Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces had suffered roughly a brigade’s worth of casualties since Ukrainian forces started ground operations on the east bank of Kherson Oblast on 17 October, reportedly forcing Russian forces to transfer combat power from elsewhere in Ukraine to Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the Israel-Hamas war has negatively affected Ukraine’s shell supplies.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on the eastern front (Kharkiv and Luhansk Oblasts), near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka (Donetsk Oblast), west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in several sectors of the front.

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