Russia says it thwarted Ukrainian attempt to forge bridgehead on River Dnipro’s east bank

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s military said on Friday that its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to forge a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the River Dnipro and on nearby islands, killing around 500 Ukrainian soldiers in the past week.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield claim, which was made in a Russian defence ministry statement and said the fighting had happened in the Kherson area of southern Ukraine.

“On 9 November, personnel from a motorised rifle company in the Russian military grouping ‘Dnipro’ under the command of Senior Lieutenant Zolto Arsalanov destroyed servicemen from a unit of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Infantry brigade as they were trying to gain a foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro River,” the statement said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that Ukraine’s counter-offensive was making some gradual progress in the south and east including what he called “good steps” near Kherson region.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War said this week that Ukraine appeared to have conducted assaults across the Dnipro in Kherson region in mid-October, and noted that Russian military bloggers were reporting continued Ukrainian ground operations on the east bank.

The latest Russian statement said Russian forces had killed most of the Ukrainian soldiers in the Nov. 9 incident and taken 11 of them prisoner. The Russians had been presented with state awards for “courage and heroism” by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as a result, it said.

The statement spoke of what it said were multiple Ukrainian unsuccessful attempts to land to seize a bridgehead on the islands and on the eastern bank of the Dnipro.

“As a result of active pre-emptive actions of Russian troops and artillery fire, the enemy’s losses during the week totalled up to 505 servicemen, 18 field artillery guns, 15 boats and 25 vehicles,” it said.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)