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Thousands of Russian troops stationed west of the Ukrainian Dnieper found themselves in a vulnerable position as Ukrainian forces blocked most supply routes to the east, the British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.
British intelligence has estimated that two main bridges in the occupied Kherson region are now unusable for transporting heavy military vehicles after Ukrainian precision strikes targeted one of the crossings again on Wednesday.
“Russia has only managed to carry out superficial repairs to the damaged Antonovsky road bridge, which likely remains structurally undermined,” the UK intelligence update said.
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Last month, Ukrainian forces began targeting key crossing points that Russian forces rely on in the region for supply routes and access to the Crimean peninsula.
A railway line is also believed to have been damaged beyond use.
Russian troops have since been forced to rely on pontoon bridges to transport men and supplies across the river that separates regions of southwestern Ukraine from Crimea.
“Even if Russia manages to carry out major repairs to the bridges, they will remain a key vulnerability,” said the British Ministry of Defense. “Ground resupply for the several thousand Russian troops in the West Bank almost certainly depends on just two pontoon ferry crossings.”
The ministry said that with reduced supply lines, Russian troops will be forced to rely on all the stocks they have accumulated west of the Dnieper, which “will probably be a key factor in the endurance of strength”.
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Ukrainian defense officials said their forces would launch a major offensive along the front line to the east and south as they sought to push back Russian forces.
Details of the offensive remain unclear, but progress made by Ukrainian troops in recent weeks in areas like Kherson suggests that some aspects of the offensive have begun.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought to shut down hints of what the offensive would look like in a late-night speech on Thursday, saying it was “frankly irresponsible” to discuss military plans to grab headlines.
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“The general rule is simple: war is certainly not the time for vanity and loud declarations”, he declared, addressing specifically “all the representatives of the State and of the territorial collectivities”. .
“The less concrete details you give about our defense plans, the better it will be for the implementation of those defense plans,” he added.