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The Dnipro River, known as the "Rampart," flows through the country of Ukraine during its ongoing conflict.
Europe Ukraine

The Dnipro River, known as the “Rampart,” flows through the country of Ukraine during its ongoing conflict.

A vast flat land scattered with dilapidated homes extended towards the distant view of the Dnipro River, where a group of Ukrainian troops were ready for potential attacks from Russia.

Last year, Ukrainian troops successfully pushed Russian forces back from the banks of the Dnipro, which is Europe’s fourth-longest river and has a significant history as a trading route. It has now become a crucial area of conflict.

The river flows from north to south, spanning the entire country and ultimately emptying into the Black Sea through the Kherson region, serving as a border between the two opposing armies.

Although the recapture of Kherson city by Ukraine in November was a setback for the Kremlin, Russian forces on the opposite side of the river still hold a large amount of land and continue to attack towns and villages they were forced to withdraw from.

“According to an army sergeant with the call sign Vozhd, or Leader, the Russian military is utilizing all their resources against us, including artillery, attack drones, and phosphorus,” stated the source in an interview with AFP.

His team was monitoring the riverbank to the southwest of Kherson city and was prepared to notify artillery units in case of a potential attack by Russian forces crossing the river.

The 38-year-old military member, wearing a balaclava and armed with a gun, stated that the pleasant weather in the area was working to their advantage.

He stated that rain is detrimental and that clear skies offer better visibility for boats arriving.

‘Solid’ Russian defenses

In June, Kyiv initiated a significant offensive in the southern and eastern regions. However, there has been little progress on the front line as the two sides continue to engage in constant bombardment using powerful weapons.

“We have the advantage on this side,” Vozhd said, standing on a small promontory topped with tufts of dry grass.

The location is elevated compared to the opposing riverside where the Russian defenses are located, spanning approximately 10 kilometers over the body of water.

In the fall season, it seems that Ukrainian troops have successfully created a few small bases on the northeastern side of Kherson city on the left bank.

The 45-year-old leader of Vozhd, known as Armyanchik, stated that his troops occasionally traverse to the eastern side of the Dnipro River.

Armyanchik, speaking to AFP, acknowledged that his forces did not have armored boats but expressed confidence in their knowledge of the terrain and the strength of their defense lines. He also recognized the challenge posed by the well-prepared Russian forces.

Karamba, a 35-year-old man with a mustache, took part in operations on the other side of the bank.

He was responsible for removing mines before the arrival of assault brigades, a challenging job made even harder by the breach of the dam in June. This event caused a surge of floodwater downstream and displaced landmines.

He stated that the flooding had caused mines to be scattered everywhere, including inside damaged houses, thick bushes, and tangled in lifeless tree branches.

The 123rd territorial brigade had set up a mortar position and concealed boats in a deserted building close to the Dnipro.

“We need to be cautious in this situation,” stated a soldier, alluding to individuals within the community who are providing information to support Russia.

There is a barrier dividing two camps.

In close proximity, a 31-year-old individual operating a gun was given the nickname Vitamin and assigned the duty of launching mortar rounds based on coordinates given by scouts such as Vozhd.

“The Russians have possessed quicker boats for the past two months,” he mentioned, while making changes to his mortar.

The primary focus of his efforts was a cluster of small islands situated along the river, which he claimed the Russians were attempting to establish as strategic locations.

“I am here to put an end to their actions,” stated the gunner. He claimed to have successfully destroyed six Russian boats and their crews. However, he did not have knowledge of how many Ukrainian boats were also sunk in retaliation.

According to the speaker, the river acts as a natural barrier, making it challenging for both the enemy and ourselves to strategize and cross to the opposite side.

A tiny canine named Zhulka barked from between the man’s legs. She was saved by Ukrainian soldiers during a mission on one of the islands.

She now serves as a warning sign, as she consistently flees from approaching drones, which are a major danger on the plains.

According to Karamba, drones are continuously flying above us, along with our mortars and tanks. They are constantly shooting at us from above, in addition to the aircraft.

Vitamin stated that the number of drones possessed by the Russians exceeds our own.

I am certain that they are currently observing us.