Expectations Rise Of Ukrainian Counteroffensive After Unconfirmed Reports Of Dnieper Crossing
By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Reports that the Ukrainian military has crossed the Dnieper River and established positions on the eastern side heightened expectations on April 23 that Kyiv is on the verge of its long-awaited counteroffensive.
The influential U.S. Institute for the Study of War (ISW) argued in its regular update on April 22 that “Russian milbloggers have provided enough geolocated footage and textual reports to confirm that Ukrainian forces have established positions in east [left] bank Kherson Oblast as of April 22 though not at what scale or with what intentions.”
The ISW added that geolocated footage from Russian military bloggers indicated that Ukrainian forces had established a bridgehead north of the town of Oleshkiy and that they have put in place “stable supply lines to these positions” in the Kherson region.
Battlefield reports could not be independently confirmed.
Many experts have said — and Ukrainian leaders have hinted — that a major spring counteroffensive by Kyiv’s forces is in the works.
One suggested goal would be to split the land corridor the Kremlin’s forces have established between the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula and Russia itself.
The Ukrainian military declined to confirm or deny the reports that its troops had taken up positions on the partly Russian-controlled bank of the strategically crucial Dnieper River.
A spokeswoman for the Southern Defense Forces of Ukraine, Natalia Humenyuk, said in televised comments that crossing an obstacle like the “wide and powerful” Dnieper was “very difficult work.”
“Therefore, the conditions of a military operation require informational silence until it is safe for our military,” she said. “That’s why we need to be patient.”
She added that “informational silence should be observed” also in light of wartime disinformation efforts by an enemy.
Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-installed head of the occupied Kherson region, denied that Ukrainian forces had established a foothold on the Dnieper’s east bank, saying on Telegram that Russian forces remained in “full control” of the area, although adding that Ukrainian sabotage teams had conducted operations there.
Earlier, Ukraine’s General Staff said Russia’s “main effort is focused” on offensive operations in the areas of Bakhmut, Maryinka, and Avdiyivka.
It said it had fought off 58 attacks in the past day, and warned of the possibility of missile and air strikes around the country.
It also said Russian “defensive operations” were continuing farther south in and around Zaporizhzhya, which hosts an occupied nuclear power plant, and Kherson.
In Kharkiv, the head of the local administration, Oleh Synyehubov, said via Telegram that Russian bombardments with S-300 missiles and other weapons were targeting the city and the district.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that “a fire broke out at a civil infrastructure facility in the Novobavar district due to rocket fire” and “emergency services are working at the scene.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders continued to press their Western allies for additional military supplies on top of the billions of dollars worth of armaments and aid already sent.
On April 22, Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk said that while Ukraine was grateful for assistance so far, “it is not enough.”
“Ukraine needs 10 times more to finish [R]ussian aggression this year,” Melnyk wrote on Twitter. “Thus we call upon our partners to cross all artificial red lines & devote 1% of GDP for [Ukraine] weapons deliveries.”
The United States said its Abrams tanks bound for Ukraine were on their way to Germany for the training of Ukrainian tank crews, and other allies issued fresh commitments to Kyiv at a Contact Group meeting at Ramstein on April 21 largely focused on helping boost Ukrainian air defenses.