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British Defense Ministry: New Russian flotilla targets control of Dnipro River, islands near Kherson

The Dnipro River Flotilla, announced by Russia on March 20, is likely aimed at preventing Ukrainian cross-river operations near the contested Krynky bridgehead.
National Guard of Ukraine
Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine. Credit: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Telegram
British Defense Ministry: New Russian flotilla targets control of Dnipro River, islands near Kherson

The British Defense Ministry reported on 27 March that the Russian new formation the Dnipro River Flotilla and a boat brigade will likely be responsible for securing the Dnipro waterways and islands that separate Russian and Ukrainian-controlled Kherson,

According to reports, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on 20 March the formation of the Dnipro River Flotilla and a boat brigade.

The UK Defense Ministry reports that it is a realistic possibility that the Dnipro Flotilla will be subordinate to the Dnipro Group of Forces, which combined the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro Group of Forces in February 2024.

Russia likely wants to prevent and deny Ukrainian cross-river operations, such as the operation to establish and maintain the Krynky bridgehead, the UK intel reported.

UK Defense Ministry reported earlier that Russian and Ukrainian forces have both lost large numbers of personnel and equipment in exchanges on Krynky.

On 17 March 2024, Ukrainian forces in Krynky reported repelling the 810th Guards Russian Naval Infantry Brigade in the area.

The reports indicate that this formation will likely decouple river patrolling functions from the Black Sea Fleet, while the Black Sea Fleet operates further afield in the eastern Black Sea.

However, the Dnipro Flotilla will likely be vulnerable to Ukrainian uncrewed surface vehicles, which “have been effective in destroying Russian vessels operating in the Black Sea,” according to the reports.

Ukraine recently increased its long-range strikes with drones and cruise missiles on the Black Sea Fleet to push Russian ships further away from the Ukrainian coast. It led to substantial vessel losses for Russia in the Black Sea. According to the Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have disabled approximately 33% of all combat ships in the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the start of the full-scale invasion. The recently reported sink was the corvette Sergey Kotov on 5 March and the landing ship Caesar Kunikov on 14 March.

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