Ukraine troops raise flag on east bank of Dnipro river

Specialist unit lands on far bank in small boat raid as analysts say winter freeze could lead to increased tempo of armoured warfare

A screengrab from a video posted on Facebook showing a Ukraine flag flying from a crane the Dnipro river. @Спецпідрозділ "Карлсон" / Facebook
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Ukrainian forces have breached the east bank of the Dnipro river for the first time and raised a flag, it has been reported.

Specialist troops from the Carlson volunteer special air intelligence unit are understood to have crossed the 1km-wide river in fast boats.

If Ukraine forces are able to exploit their success and further breach Russian lines then it could prove problematic for Moscow’s commanders in the Kherson region, which is the gateway to the annexed Crimea peninsula.

It has also been suggested that the recent onset of the winter freeze will help Ukraine renew offensive operations using armoured vehicles, despite US officials saying there could be a “reduced tempo” to rest and restock following Kyiv’s successful autumn attacks.

Footage posted on the Telegram social network showed a unit of Ukraine personnel crossing the Dnipro in three fast boats unopposed on to a wooden marina.

The troops landed on the enemy-held territory on Saturday and a drone video showed a Ukraine flag attached to a large crane close to the shore.

This was understood be the first time the blue and yellow flag has flown on the east bank since the February invasion, suggesting it could be either a precursor to establishing a strong presence or a one-off daring raid.

“This limited Ukrainian incursion on to the east bank could open avenues for Ukrainian forces to begin to operate on the east bank,” the US-based Institute for the Study of War website reported.

“The establishment of positions along the eastern river bank will likely set conditions for future Ukrainian offensive operations into occupied Kherson Oblast if Ukrainian troops choose to pursue this line of advance in the south.”

However, Russia has established strong defensive positions in depth, with at least three separate trench lines running back from the Dnipro to the Crimea border.

But their lines could still be vulnerable to Ukraine armour if Kyiv commanders can establish a strong crossing point to get heavy vehicles across the Dnipro.

The winter has also set conditions in eastern Ukraine that could prove helpful for a higher tempo of offensive operations against the Russians, according to Institute for the Study of War.

The possibility of a Ukraine punch further east and south has been enhanced after a month of mud has been replaced with frozen ground.

One Russian military blogger wrote that he expected Ukrainian forces to increase the pace of operations in the Luhansk region.

This could prove a key moment in the war, to determine whether Kyiv’s forces have the skill and equipment to break through opposition lines and to discover if reports are correct that recently mobilised Russian troops are ill-trained with poor equipment and low morale.

However, recent polling in Russia suggests that its citizens still support the war, with 74 per cent in favour of the Ukraine operations, according to a survey by Levada Centre, a Russian independent, non-governmental polling organisation.

Updated: December 04, 2022, 2:21 PM