KYIV, Ukraine –
The Ukrainian military used precision missile launchers supplied by the United States on Wednesday to knock down a key bridge used by Russia to supply its forces in an area, officials said. occupied area in southern Ukraine.
The Antonivskyi Bridge over the Dnieper River was attacked late on Tuesday, according to Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson regional government appointed by Moscow. The bridge was still intact, he said, but holes in its deck prevented vehicles from crossing the 1.4 km (0.9 mile) span.
After previous Ukrainian attacks damaged the bridge last week, the bridge was closed to trucks, but it remained open to passenger vehicles until the most recent strike.
Russian forces in recent days have stepped up their shelling of cities and villages in eastern Ukraine and stepped up air strikes in the south. At the same time, the Kremlin’s troops are facing increasingly powerful counter-attacks from the Ukrainians in the Kherson region, which was captured by Moscow early in the war.
Ukrainian forces used multiple US-supplied HIMARS missile launchers to target the bridge, Stremousov said. Ukraine’s military spokesman, Nataliya Gumenyuk, told Ukraine TV that “surgical attacks” were carried out on the bridge.
HIMARS has a greater range, greater accuracy, and faster rate of fire than the Soviet-designed Smerch, Uragan and Tornado missile launchers used by both Russia and Ukraine. The weapons are among the billions of dollars in Western military aid that have helped Ukraine fight the Russians since the February 24 invasion.
In other developments:
– Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Russia lost nearly 40,000 soldiers in the war and tens of thousands more were wounded. His claims cannot be independently verified. The Russian military last reported its losses in March, when it said 1,351 soldiers had been killed.
– Turkish Defense Minister said preparations are underway to resume grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Last week, Russia and Ukraine signed deals to free millions of tons of grain trapped by fighting, potentially defuse a global food crisis.
At least two civilians were killed and three injured when Russian forces shelled a hotel in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian emergency authorities said. Bakhmut has become the focal point of Russia’s offensive in the region.
While blocking traffic across the Dnieper River Bridge created only a slight decline in overall Russian military activity, the attack was an uplifting victory for the Ukrainians.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that “occupiers should learn to swim across” the Dnieper or “leave Kherson while they still can.” “There may be no third warning,” he tweeted.
The bridge is the main overpass over the Dnieper in the Kherson region. The only other option is a dam at the hydroelectric power station in Kakhovka, which also caught fire in Ukraine last week but remains open.
Dislodging the junctions would make it difficult for the Russian military to continue to supply its forces in the region.
The precise aim of the bridge contrasts with Russia’s indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas since the invasion five months ago.
The governor of Dnipropetrovsk, in the east-central part of the country, on Wednesday said Russian forces had attacked two areas with artillery. Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said a woman was injured in the town of Marhanets and several apartment buildings, hospitals and schools were damaged by the shelling.
“The chaotic shelling has no other goal than to instill panic and fear in the civilian population,” he said.
The majority of Russian forces are fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as Donbas, where they have made slow gains in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, they have captured some ground northeast of Bakhmut. But it said Russian forces are unlikely to capture any significant additional territory in Ukraine before early autumn.