Ukrainian special forces surprised and killed dozens of Russians in a daring nighttime river raid, reports say

A Ukrainian special-forces soldier in Kharkiv, Russia, in March 2022, not long after Russia’s full-scale invasion began.

FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian forces launched a raid across the Dnipro River under cover of dark. 
They killed and captured dozens of Russians, reports say. 
It’s a rare breakthrough for Ukraine in its gruelling counteroffensive to drive back Russia. 

Ukrainian special forces broke through Russian defensive lines, captured or killing dozens of enemy soldiers in a daring raid across the Dnipro river, reports say. 

Russian military bloggers, who’ve provided valuable information about front-line battles, said that seven boats, each carrying six to seven soldiers, landed in a village just east of Kherson city, taking Russian forces by surprise, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said.

According military-blogger posts, the Ukrainians managed to smash through Russian defenses, killing or capturing dozens of Russians.

The Dnipro is the main watercourse in Ukraine, dividing the country into east and west. For around 150 miles in the south, the river forms the dividing line between Ukrainian and Russian territory. Crossing points have repeatedly come under attack, and trying to get across the river is a risky move that exposes troops to enemy fire.

A map of Ukraine, with the Dnipro river visible in the center. It flows through Kyiv, the capital, heading southeast towards the city of Dnipro, before curving back round to meet the Black Sea in the southwest.

Google maps

Along much of its course it forms the front line river forms part of the front line in south Ukraine, with Ukraine holding one bank of the river near Kherson and Russia the other. It has been the site of intense fighting in recent weeks, as Ukrainian forces seek to break through Russian lines as part of their counteroffensive. 

In the wake of the raid, conflicting accounts emerged of whether it had been successful. 

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-backed head of government in occupied parts of the Kherson region , said the raid was forced back.

But The Institute for the Study of War, an influential US think tank, said it had seen evidence that Ukraine had indeed inflicted damage on Russian forces.

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

According to The ISW, Ukrainian forces appeared to have taken advantage of a Russian troop rotation, when experienced soldiers were moved out from Kherson to reinforce Russian lines elsewhere. 

Ukraine has made incremental but slow progress in its bid to push back Russian forces across the front line, with Russian positions heavily defended and protected by miles of landmines.

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