Videos and satellite images circulating online show that key bridges in Ukraine’s south have been damaged by strikes.
Ukraine has been using U.S.-supplied M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in recent months to strike Russian bases, ammunition depots and bridges across the Dnipro river leading to the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.
According to researcher Benjamin Pittet, the bridge which runs over the Nova Kakhovka dam—used by Russian forces to transport military equipment in the region—has collapsed after being repeatedly hit.
“The bridge of the Nova Kakhovka dam has collapsed due to numerous Ukrainian strikes,” Pittet tweeted alongside a satellite image showing the damage. “The railway bridge did not collapse but is severely damaged.”
The claims was backed up by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which said that “social media footage of explosions in Nova Kakhovka (55km east of Kherson City) supports satellite imagery from September 2 depicting that the Nova Khakovka dam bridge has partially collapsed due to Ukrainian strikes.”
It added: “Satellite imagery shows a roughly 20m-by-9m segment of the bridge has fallen into the river, which has likely rendered this section of the dam bridge inoperable.”
Twitter account Ukraine Battle Maps, which tracks the war in Ukraine, said it could take up to three months to repair the bridge after the HIMARS strikes.
Videos circulating on social media also purported to show the Antonovsky Bridge, also known as the Antonivka Road Bridge, coming under fire by HIMARS on Sunday morning. The Ukrainian military has repeatedly targeted the bridge in recent months.
On Tuesday, a Ukrainian official said that an earlier strike on the Antonovsky Bridge could eliminate any chances of the Russian military using it for strategic purposes. “Another strike on the Antonivka Bridge! It seems to me that this is the final chord,” Kherson Regional Council member Serhiy Khlan wrote on Facebook.
Euan McDonald, editor-at-large of the outlet The New Voice of Ukraine, tweeted that Ukraine’s effort to reduce Russian forces’ resupply capacity in the region is “ongoing, but is showing success with the collapse of the road section of the Nova Kakhvka bridge, and the destruction of pontoon crossings at the Inhulets and near the Antonivka road bridge.”
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said the Ukrainian strategy involves “the systemic grinding of Putin’s army.”
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Arestovych said when it comes to targeting the Russians, the Ukrainian forces are seeking “to uncover their operational logistical supply system and destroy it with artillery and [HIMARS].”
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry recently praised the Ukrainian army’s use of HIMARS in a clip posted on its official Twitter account.
“HIMARS got talent! When used by #UAarmy [Ukrainian Army], it’s more than just a talent,” the ministry tweeted on Friday, along with a clip from America’s Got Talent, featuring a HIMARS animation as a performer auditioning in front of the judges.
The U.S. says it has sent 16 HIMARS to Ukraine, with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov confirming the first systems arrived on June 23.
On Saturday, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense said one element of Ukraine’s offensive in the country’s south is “an ongoing advance on a broad front west of the Dnipro River, focusing on three axes within Russian-occupied Kherson Oblast.”
The operation has “limited immediate objectives, but Ukraine’s forces have likely achieved a degree of tactical surprise; exploiting poor logistics, administration and leadership in the Russian armed forces,” the ministry said.
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