Ukraine troops 'gain Dnipro river foothold for first time' in major set-back for Putin

Ukraine’s troops have managed to cross the Dnipro River in the south of the country for the first time since the Russian invasion began, according to conflict analysts. Speculation continues to mount over Ukraine’s long-awaited spring offensive aimed at pushing 100 miles south of the river at least as far as annexed Crimea.

This breakthrough comes on the heels of rumours of a partial Russian retreat in the Kherson region.

Since Russian troops retreated from Kherson in November, the Dnipro River has been the front line.

Analysts speculate that Ukraine’s spring attack may attempt to push 100 kilometres south of the river, possibly as far as annexed Crimea.

According to experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in the United States, footage from Russian military bloggers provided the first “reliable geolocated imagery of Ukrainian positions” south of the river.

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The ISW update stated: “The extent and intent of these Ukrainian positions remain unclear, as does Ukraine’s ability and willingness to maintain sustained positions in this area.”

The struggle for Kherson is critical to retaining control of Crimea, which Moscow occupied nine years ago.

The Russian-appointed governor of Ukraine’s southern Kherson area has refuted reports of Ukrainian forces taking up positions on the Dnipro River’s eastern bank, insisting that the territory is fully controlled by the Ukrainian military.

However, he recognises that enemy sabotage groups may land but insisted they would ultimately be destroyed or thrown back into the water by Russian fighters.