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Behind enemy lines - VG

Behind enemy lines – VG

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Under cover of darkness, a group of Ukrainian soldiers lift a rubber dinghy from the sand into the water. Another group loads weapons and equipment into the second boat, while the third boat uses oars to glide silently into the Dnipro River itself.

Soon after, they disappear into the darkness.

Soldiers, special forces from the Bratstvo battalion, interviewed in V.’s report The New York Timesand the top two pictures in this case are from there.

The special forces are participating in an operation behind enemy lines: they are going out on the river to cross to the eastern bank of the Dnieper. There they will dig through a road and attack a Russian artillery position.

– It’s a very dangerous operation, our soldiers have to go ashore, where there are squadrons of Russians. Oleksey Seredyuk, the battalion commander, explains that they should avoid it and lay mines.

– We go on foot. He explains that we can move up to 35 kilometers and spend several days in the field.

In Kherson province where the regional capital is located west of Dnipro Released last weekThe Russians control the eastern bank of the river.

Ukrainian troops stand firmly on the western side: the Russians have destroyed the most important bridges, blocking the road behind them.

But the Ukrainian special forces are showing that they can continue the war using boats.

– In recent months, Ukrainian special forces have been operating inside Russian-controlled areas on the East Bank. They cooperate with partisan soldiers stationed behind enemy lines, Lieutenant Colonel and Director of the War School Palle Ydstebø explains to VG.

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In addition to sabotage, the special forces can scout, that is, point out targets that can be hit with artillery missiles from the other side of the river, the expert explains.

– I expect that we will see more such special operations in the near future, when there will be long and dark nights, Yedstepo explains.

Exploded: Satellite imagery from Makassar shows the destroyed Antonovsky Bridge crossing the Dnipro.

Since the summer, Ukrainian forces have been waging a stubborn war against the Russian occupation of Kherson, an offensive that began with attacking bridges over the river and Isolation of Russian forces in August.

However, it was a surprise when the Russian military suddenly announced this Withdrawal from the city of Kherson two weeks ago.

Kherson fell so quickly that at first the Ukrainian soldiers feared they would stay They fell into a trap.

On the eastern side of the river, Russian soldiers had recently dug trenches and built defences.

They want to form a buffer zone against Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

background: Exhausting the Russians with Western weapons

– The fact that the Russians are fortifying the areas towards Crimea with trenches is not a sign of strength. Ydstebø points out that this shows that they do not have enough offensive maneuver forces.

He makes clear that Ukrainian forces will seize the opportunity now that Russia is on the defensive to reclaim as much territory as possible. The attacks target Russian supply lines.

– It is likely that the Ukrainians will also send reconnaissance forces, which will carry out intelligence information in the field, Yedstepo explains.

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– Ukraine wants to keep pressure on the front in the south, so that the Russians will not be able to dig and build during the winter, Yedstepo explains.

Difficulty moving: Ukrainian soldiers near the front line in Kherson, in a photo taken on Wednesday of this week.

He also doubts that Ukraine will be able to move large forces and mechanized units, such as tanks and armored vehicles, across the river until the arrival of Kherson.

– Bridges destroyed in Kherson. The Ukrainians have a number of pontoon bridges, but it is uncertain how much they want to risk. Moving large forces across a river, Ydstebø explains, is one of the hardest things you can do in war.

Ydstebø believes that the Ukrainian army is likely to transport heavy materials by rail from the front in Kherson in the south, and up towards the front in the breakaway Luhansk Republic in the north.

Bombardment: Ukrainian soldiers fire artillery at Russian positions, in a photo from the battles for Kherson in the first week of November.

The Special Forces interviewed by The New York Times said they engage in needle-stick attacks against specific targets.

They monitor the Russian positions with drones from the middle of the river. Recently they have seen many new Russian soldiers, who arrive at the front lines with wheeled bags and appear to be poorly trained.

Ukrainian soldiers have tactical night goggles and rifles with binoculars so they can take out targets from a long distance. Likewise, it is risky.

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“There is always something wrong,” the battalion commander Seredyuk admitted, but said that they managed to destroy artillery fire and shoot down a Russian combat helicopter.

Recently, there have been several videos on Twitter (see below) that purport to show Ukrainian soldiers crossing the Dnipro River in small rubber boats, battalion-style that was hit by The New York Times.

But no geodata in the videos or physical checkpoints are visible in them, so VG couldn’t verify them.

Several military bloggers have written that Ukrainian forces have captured the narrow Kinburn Peninsula, a nature reserve located where the Dnipro River flows into the Black Sea. Also reputable Institute for the Study of War It has Ukrainian military sources that Ukrainian soldiers must have crossed by boat to Kinburn.

Ydstebø also saw videos of soldiers in boats going ashore in Kinburn.

– As long as it is not verified, one must be skeptical. But it is possible that the soldiers landed there, because the area is relatively protected. Right now, we don’t know, he says.