A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 17, 2023

How Ukraine So Quickly Dominated the Trans-Dnipro Bridgehead

Ukrainian intelligence discovered that Russia had rotated to the Zaporizhzhia salient - where the Ukrainian counteroffensive is advancing - the experienced paratroopers holding the left bank of the Dnipro below Kherson. 

It replaced the paras with untrained conscripts. The Ukrainians recognized the opportunity, and struck. They were also helped by a Russian officer they captured who was angry that he had been forcibly mobilized out of retirement and assigned raw troops and who revealed Russian defensive dispositions. JL 

Yuri Zoria reports in the Euromaidan Press:

After Ukrainian forces established a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, they started pushing Russians from Kozachi Laheri. What helped Ukraine gain so rapidly was that the captured commander of the battalion responsible for this area reported his troops were untrained. Ukraine got the disposition of Russian observation posts, command posts, defensive positions, patrol routes. It initiated a wave of attacks. Ukrainian artillery unleashed precise, devastating fire. Ukrainian success is, to a large extent, a result of intelligence. Experienced Russian airborne forces were removed, inexperienced mobilized soldiers (took over) and the Ukrainians immediately focused on destroying them.

Today there are a lot of updates from the Kherson region.

Here, after Ukrainian forces established a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the river, they slowly started pushing Russians from the village of Kozachi Laheri. What helped Ukrainians to capitalize on their recent gains so rapidly was the information that they got from the captured commander of the battalion that was responsible for holding this area. Recently released footage showed a conversation between a Ukrainian fighter and the Russian battalion commander, Major Tomov.

Maj. Tomov said his battalion fully consisted of mobilized soldiers and that he was also mobilized last fall. He said that his troops were untrained, which is why their battalion was doing some logistical tasks in the rear when suddenly, less than two weeks ago, they got deployed to the zero line. When hit with reality, the soldiers got demoralized and refused to follow many orders. That is why he very often had to go to each position and check on everything personally, which is exactly how he got captured. Moreover, it turned out that as a result of the concentrated work of Ukrainian artillery and drone crews, the battalion lost 25% of its personnel just in the first 9 days, and after the Ukrainian attack, Russian losses exceeded 30%.

But the most important information that Ukrainians got was the disposition of Russian observation posts, command posts, defensive positions, and regular patrol routes. Ukrainians got all the details marked on the map and immediately initiated the second wave of attacks. Geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian drone operators quickly verified the received information by tracking down Russian troops, and after Ukrainian artillery crews received the coordinates, they unleashed precise and devastating fire on the western side of the village and pushed Russians to the eastern side.

Russian sources claimed that despite the challenging situation on the ground, Russian forces prevented Ukrainians from entering the settlement. However, some analysts still alluded to the fact that the fighting is taking place inside the village itself. It was reported that Ukrainian forces were moving on the river relatively freely, and just like they evacuated captured Russians to the Ukrainian rear, they also reinforced the region on the way back. In order to hold the newly captured positions, Ukrainians deployed fighters from the 126 Brigade while special forces reportedly continued moving forward.

Screenshot from the video.

If Ukrainians manage to take Kozachi Laheri and start moving towards Oleshky, then a significant portion of the river will be entirely out of Russian control, giving Ukrainians unlimited ability to reinforce their assault units. And Russian forces would only be able to counterattack along two corridors because there is a vast sand desert national part in the middle.

The analysts concluded that Ukrainian success is, to a large extent, a result of powerful intelligence because the moment experienced Russian airborne forces were removed from the front and inexperienced mobilized soldiers assumed responsibility, Ukrainians immediately focused on destroying them. The lack of experience of these troops and lack of familiarity with the region played a key role, and the whole battalion incurred substantial losses in less than 10 days, got demoralized, and was easy to break.

Screenshot from the video.

Interestingly, Russian forces recently tried to conduct a similar operation on a much smaller scale, possibly to shift the Ukrainian focus away from this region and force to devote resources to stabilizing the situation rather than developing the bridgehead. Unfortunately for Russians, Ukrainian drone operators were closely monitoring the region and destroyed Russian boats with kamikaze drones already on the approach.


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