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Ukrainian troops launch surprise raid across Dnipro River and break through some of Russia’s defences

Russian military bloggers suggest some of Moscow’s soldiers were either killed or captured in the raid

Chris Stevenson
Friday 11 August 2023 12:07 BST
Ukrainian forces in Kherson
Ukrainian forces in Kherson (Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces broke through Russia’s defensive lines after launching a surprise raid across the Dnipro River.

The river divides liberated Ukrainian territory on one bank and Russian-occupied land on the other, and for months it has served as part of the front line in southern Ukraine.

Russian military bloggers said that up to seven boats, each carrying up to six troops, arrived on the Russian-occupied bank, apparently under the cover of darkness, and advanced 800m. Blogger Trinadtsatyi, posting on the Telegram messaging app to more than 150,000 followers, said a number of Russian soldiers were allegedly killed or taken captive during the raid. Images circulating on social media appeared to show captured soldiers.

Monitors of Russia's invasion said there were clear signs of a major battle. The Russian-imposed head of the occupied part of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, claimed the Ukrainian raid had been repelled. But the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) – which tracks movements on the battlefield – said the “limited raid” appeared partially successful. And that while Russian forces appeared to have partly pushed back Ukrainian troops, the ISW said “Saldo was likely purposefully trying to refute claims of Ukrainian presence in this area to avoid creating panic”.

The ISW said of the raid: “The majority of prominent Russian [military bloggers] claimed that Ukrainian forces managed to utilise tactical surprise and land on the east bank before engaging Russian forces in small arms exchanges”.

“Data from the past 24 hours in this area appear to confirm that there was significant combat, likely preceded or accompanied by artillery fire,” the ISW added.

The raid is said to have happened during a rotation of Russian troops, as more experienced fighters were redeployed towards Zaporizhzhia in the south and the Donbas region in the east. Both front lines that have been the scene of heavy fighting.

Ukrainian forces have tried a number of times to cross the Dnipro, as gaining a foothold on the Russian-occupied bank would enable them to push further into Moscow-held territory. This latest raid appears to be the most significant since the launch of a similar operation by Ukraine’s 73rd marine special operations unit.

Meanwhile, in Russia, one person was killed and more than 50 injured in a blast at the site of a factory that makes optical equipment for Putin’s security forces in the town of Sergiev Posad, 30 miles (50km) northeast of Moscow, local authorities said.

Emergency services said the explosion occurred in a warehouse containing pyrotechnic equipment, state news agency Tass reported. Tass also quoted emergency services who dismissed early reports that the blast was caused by a drone attack, many of which have peppered Moscow and the surrounding area in recent weeks. Russia's Investigative Committee, Russia's top law enforcement agency, also denied the blast was from drones.

Russia often blames Ukraine for such attacks – and while Kyiv rarely claims responsibility for them, officials are happy to play up the disruption and suggest that the war is coming home to Russia.

Before the factory explosion, Russian officials said air defences had shot down two drones aimed at the capital overnight, accusing Ukraine.

One of the drones came down in the Domodedovo district south of Moscow, and the other fell near the Minsk highway west of the city, according to the mayor, Sergei Sobyanin. Moscow Domodedovo airport is one of the capital's busiest hubs.

It wasn't clear where the drones were launched, and Ukrainian officials made no immediate comment. Mr Sobyanin said there were no casualties.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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