Ukraine Situation Report: Russia’s Demolition Of Roadway Over Dam Seen In Incredible Video (Updated)

Footage shows Russian forces blowing the bridge at Nova Kakhovka Dam after fleeing the Dnieper’s western bank on November 11. 

The massive explosion left a huge cloud of smoke in its wake and brilliant secondary explosions at nearby transmission lines. Attacks on Russian positions in the nearby city reportedly continued after the bridge blew, as well. 

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Ukrainian strikes targeted this and other Russian-held crossings on the Dnieper throughout the summer, notably the Antonivsky Bridge closer to the city of Kherson. New drone footage showed what remains of the bridge partially submerged in the Dnieper.

Kyiv claimed in October that Russia had rigged the dam to explode, threatening to flood areas downstream to cover its retreat. In our exclusive interview with Ukraine’s intel chief, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, he made it clear the roadways are likely Russia’s target:

TWZ: You’ve talked about the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant Dam being mined in April. Do you really think the Russians will blow that up?

KB: In our assessment, if such a decision is taken, they will only blow up the road that goes over the dam to make it impossible to use for our vehicles and also the water locks of the dam which will cause only a partial ruination of the facility.

TWZ: If they do that, will it impede your ability to retake Kherson?

KB: No. This might happen when we take Kherson and if they decide to withdraw. After withdrawal from the west bank, they might turn to doing it to obstruct our advancement to the east bank.

Regardless, few expected these crossings to last long once Russian forces made their retreat official, with spectacular nighttime explosions sealing their fate. 

Before heading into today’s news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here

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Kherson’s liberation led to countless scenes of Ukrainian civilians greeting yellow-banded troops and celebrating the Russian retreat.

Video from Kherson’s central square showed crowds had grown considerably since the first handful met troops there on November 11.

In one village, a Ukrainian grandmother did more than welcome the troops, an ammo can in one hand and a belt of machine gun rounds in the other. 

The moment evoked memories of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s reply in the invasion’s earliest days. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry poked fun at the role reversal with a meme of Zelensky and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. 

Starlink quickly made an appearance in the liberated city, with a terminal set up for residents to communicate with relatives elsewhere across Ukraine.

As in the case in previous Russian retreats of varied coordination, they left a lot of things behind. With each day the retreat grew more inevitable, so too did the prospect of huge Russian equipment losses. 

Russian troops abandoned sizable supply caches, previously captured helicopters, and reportedly a complete S-300 SAM system in their flight back across the Dnieper. There’s also the issue of Russian soldiers who didn’t make it across the river, with some reportedly ditching uniforms to evade Ukrainian forces. 

Like on previous fronts abandoned by Russian forces, troops have left behind booby-traps like the one hidden beneath an anti-tank mine seen here. 

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Beyond Kherson, it appears Russia is well into putting up defensive positions on the Dnieper’s west bank. Satellite imagery shows a new Russian base likely built with acute awareness of how far Ukraine’s M142 HIMARS can now reach. 

Moscow also remains wary of a potential Ukrainian offensive in Zaporizhia Oblast, with satellite imagery showing extensive fortifications along the frontline from Enerhodar toward the Donbas further east. The defenses make more sense given President Zelensky’s claim that Ukraine intends to liberate Russian-held areas of not only the Donbas, but also Crimea. 

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UPDATE:

Two weeks removed from the stunning Ukrainian attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, satellite imagery shows the fleet’s warships are unusually inactive within the harbor’s confines. Analyst H I Sutton (@CovertShores) tweeted the imagery that showed no Russian warships active in the oft-used patrol zones outside the base.

It’s unclear whether the drop in activity is related to a threat from Ukrainian unmanned surface vessels (USV), though the unprecedented October 29 attack looms large over the Black Sea. We wrote about Ukraine finally showcasing these USVs earlier this week, which you can read about here.

A Russian Telegram channel claims that Russia has obtained a complete “MLRS missile” used by the U.S.-supplied M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS 227mm rocket launchers. The channel Colonel Cassad alleged Russia is studying the missile after the use of a third country getting it to Russian territory, though it is not clear which variant of the rockets was allegedly recovered.

The War Zone reached out to the Pentagon for comment Friday afternoon and will update this story with a response. Russian claims on HIMARS have ranged from dubious to outrageous since their introduction early in the summer. Getting full missile without it first smashing into a Russian target would be a huge but unlikely intelligence coup for Moscow if true.

We will continue to update this post if more info comes available.

Contact the author: stetson.payne@thewarzone.com