Briefly: For the first time since the early days of the war, Ukrainian forces have established a foothold on the east bank of the Dnipro River, near the Ukrainian-held city of Kherson.
There are several theories about what exactly this means:
- 🛥️ Ukrainian troops could be pushing Russian forces back as they begin their long-awaited spring counter-offensive
- 🏰 Russian troops could be withdrawing strategically to fortify nearby urban positions, allowing Ukrainian troops to cross the Dnipro, and/or
- 🧭 The Ukrainian advance across the Dnipro could just be a diversion
Analysts expect any Ukrainian counter-offensive to focus on breaking the “land bridge” that links Russian-held areas to Crimea. So that’d fit theories 1 and 2.
But with Ukraine’s solid track record of diversionary tactics, and its promise of “informational silence” around its counter-offensive, theory 3 is just as solid.
Intrigue’s take: This river crossing was first detailed in a US-based think tank report containing several other intriguing details, including:
- Russia “losing control” of some detachments in Ukraine
- Central Asian migrants losing Russian citizenship if they don’t fight
- And even a Russian unit made up entirely of soccer hooligans
It all paints a picture of weakened Russian forces that are neither “emotionally [n]or intellectually prepared to respond” to a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
But even with new NATO weapons and training, the report notes Ukraine’s counter-offensive will be “daunting” and larger than any of its offensive efforts to date. So Kyiv will need plenty more “crossing the Dnipro” moments ahead.
Also worth noting:
- Russia has switched to defensive positions along the entire frontline except in the city of Bakhmut, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
- The UK’s Defence Ministry says Russia’s plan to recruit 400,000 volunteers is facing significant hurdles.