Ukraine continues to maintain a small bridgehead on the Russian-occupied side of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast, but it is under heavy fire, according to Kremlin-connected milbloggers.
“Ukrainian formations continue to supply the groups that landed in the Antonovsky Bridge area with the help of high-speed boats,” the Rybar Telegram channel said Wednesday. “They are covered by artillery operating from the area of Kherson and Sadovy.”
Those troops are dug in and not advancing, according to Rybar. However, heavy Ukrainian artillery fire from across the river is also preventing Russian troops from advancing as well.
The situation near the bridge backs a trend we've been seeing for weeks now as Ukraine tries to maintain the bridgehead. Its forces trying to resupply its troops there by boat have come under fire while Russian troops attempting to advance toward the river have also been attacked and pushed back.
Whether Ukraine is shaping the battlefield for a future attack or just trying to pin down Russian troops to keep them from supporting the defense of the ongoing counteroffensive remains unclear at the moment.
As we noted back in January, any large-scale attempt to cross the Dnipro is a huge challenge.
A major Ukrainian river crossing, using pontoon bridges, “is impossible” right now due to the ongoing Russian shelling, a Ukrainian military advisor told us at the time. The Russians, you might remember, came under tremendous fire trying to get across the river during their retreat back in the fall.
“Do you want to be the driver of a tank crossing a huge river on a temporary bridge on barges?” the Ukrainian military advisor asked rhetorically. “Everything is shaking. The Russians are trying to shoot you with artillery. And how fast can you get one brigade from the right bank to the left bank over a temporary bridge? It’s impossible.”
Given that Russia still has a good degree of fire control over the river, and loitering munitions, First Person Video (FPV) drones and surface-to-surface missiles, it is unlikely the calculus expressed in January has changed much.
But this is still something to keep an eye on as the counteroffensive progresses and we will provide updates when warranted.
Before we head into the latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
The donations to Kyiv announced during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania continued Wednesday. In addition to an undisclosed number of SCALP-EG air-launched, conventionally armed cruise missiles promised by France and Patriot launchers and other equipment promised by Germany we told you about yesterday, Ukraine is set to receive the following aid:
- 30 Bushmaster armored vehicles from Australia, worth A$100 million ($67 million) according to Reuters.
- More than 70 combat and logistic vehicles, thousands of rounds of ammunition for Challenger 2 tanks, and a 50 million pound ($65 million) support package for equipment repair. Britain will also launch a project through NATO to establish a medical rehabilitation center for Ukrainian soldiers, according to Reuters..
- Norway will transfer an additional 1,000 Black Hornet drones to Ukraine for reconnaissance, according to the Eurointegration news site. Norway also donated a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missiles Systems, or NASAMS support package containing two additional fire control centers, two launch units and spare parts “to ensure endurance, redundancy and flexibility to already donated air defense systems, according to the Norwegian Defense Ministry.
- Ukraine and Sweden signed an agreement on cooperation in defense procurement, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Tweet. “This document provides great opportunities both for our Armed Forces and for Swedish companies like SAAB and others.”
The Netherlands also gave Ukraine a badly needed mobile hospital.
Also meeting in Vilnius, the G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K and the U.S) released a joint statement of support for Ukraine, promoting the following:
- Security assistance and modern military equipment, across land, air, and sea domains – prioritizing air defense, artillery and long-range fires, armored vehicles, and other key capabilities, such as combat air, and by promoting increased interoperability with Euro-Atlantic partners;
- Support to further develop Ukraine’s defense industrial base;
- Training and training exercises for Ukrainian forces;
- Intelligence sharing and cooperation;
- Support for cyber defense, security, and resilience initiatives, including to address hybrid threats.
Zelensky also met with U.S. President Joe Biden and thanked him America's generosity.
In an interview with ABC news, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did not rule out the U.S. providing "longer-range missiles."
"...with respect to the long range missiles you're referring to, President Biden will continue to discuss that issue with President Zelensky today," Sullivan said. "He has said he has been looking at it and he continues to do."
Though no particular system was mentioned, Zelensky has long sought U.S.-produced Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missiles, which can hit targets at about 200 miles away.
Asked by a reporter when Ukraine might get ATACMS, Zelensky, the former comedian, showed he hasn't lost his chops or timing after more than 500 days of being under constant Russian attack.
After the question, he gave a sly smile, adjusted the microphones in a pause for effect, then delivered his answer like a punchline.
"I don't know," he said with a grin.
As he was boarding Air Force One, Biden was asked if sending ATACMS to Ukraine was something he is considering.
“Yes, but they already have the equivalent of ATACMS now,” said Biden, without offering specifics. “What we need most of all is artillery shells, and they're in short supply. We're working on that.”
Zelensky “seemed very satisfied with everything we're doing, when we left,” Biden said.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace dished out some caustic quips, taking aim at both Ukraine and Russia.
He likened the generals leading Russia’s war effort — Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov to “Laurel and Hardy,” according to The New York Times.
He also chided Ukrainian leaders for constant demand for aid, suggesting they show more appreciation for the tens of billions in arms and training already provided.
“There is a slight word of caution here, which is, whether we like it or not people want to see gratitude. You know, we’re not Amazon,” Wallace said, according to the Times, adding that Britain has given Ukraine so many mine-clearing vehicles that “I think there’s none left.”
The Russian general reported to have had advanced knowledge of Wagner Private Military Company boss Yevgeny Prigozin's mutiny last month has not been seen in public since it was called off. Though there has been speculation that Gen. Sergei Surovikin, head of the Russian Aerospace Forces, was detained, one Russian member of parliament said that Surovikin was "resting now" and "not available."
Modern Leopard 2 tanks will be repaired in Germany, not Poland, after negotiations between the two countries broke down, Reuters reported.
“Leopard 2A5 and Leopard 2A6 tanks will be repaired in Germany and likely in Lithuania,” said a German defense ministry spokesperson.
Berlin and Warsaw had aimed to establish a joint maintenance hub in Poland to reduce the distance the tanks have to be shipped, but the talks dragged on for months amid accusations the prices demanded for the repairs in Poland were far higher than the usual rates.
Berlin has supplied around 20 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Kyiv, while Poland delivered the older Leopard 2A4 tanks.
Speaking of tanks, the Swedish-donated Stridsvagn 122 main battle tanks, a variant of the Leopard 2 tanks, have appeared in Ukraine. Sweden announced it was donating 10 in February.
Irked by the massive amount of weaponry being provided to Kyiv, Russia plans to display NATO equipment it has destroyed in Ukraine outside the embassies of Western countries that supplied it, a top Russian official said Wednesday according to Reuters.
"The proposal to install burned equipment next to the embassies of those countries that send it to Ukraine is especially interesting," said parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who issued orders for such a display to be organized.
Another Russian T-90 tank was damaged, this time near Bakhmut by drones - one a kamikaze, the other dropping a thermobaric grenade.
The crew of this Ukrainian Panzerhaubitze 2000 155mm self-propelled howitzer shows off its rapid-fire skills.
Ukrainian artillery troops from the 77th Separate Aeromobile Brigade are seen working on Russian positions.
This Russian unit looks like it is right out of Hollywood casting for a war movie.
Illustrators in Ukraine had a little fun with AI-generated artwork. See any familiar baby faces?
And finally, while it's been a while since we've seen the infamous trench beaver, a family of the dam-building critters were recently spotted on the Dnipro River in central Kyiv. A bucolic alternative to the horrors of war.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more news to report about Ukraine.
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