Ukraine Uses New Artillery to Hit Key Bridge for Russians; Russia Downplays the Impact of Attack

KYIV, Ukraine—Ukrainian artillery hit a strategic bridge essential for Moscow to supply its forces occupying Ukraine’s southern region, using a U.S.–supplied precision rocket system.

The Ukrainian military struck the Antonivskyi Bridge across the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine late Tuesday, the deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration for the Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said.

He said Wednesday the bridge was still standing but its deck was pierced with holes, preventing vehicles from crossing.

The 1.4-kilometer (0.9-mile) bridge sustained serious damage in Ukrainian shelling last week, when it took multiple hits. It was closed for trucks but had remained open for passenger vehicles until the latest strike.

Ukrainian forces used U.S.–supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to hit the bridge, Stremousov said.

The HIMARS system has precision strike capability and has added a more modern technological edge to Ukraine’s dated military assets.

While halting traffic across the bridge, at least temporarily, makes only a slight dent in the overall Russian military operation, the strike showed Russian forces are vulnerable.

rescuers-remove-debris
Rescuers remove debris after a Russian missile attack on Monday in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on July 26, 2022. (Andrii Marienko/AP Photo)

The bridge is the main crossing across the Dnieper River in the Kherson region. The only other option is a dam at the hydroelectric plant in Kakhovka, which also came under Ukrainian fire last week but has remained open for traffic.

Early in the war, Russian troops quickly overran the Kherson region just north of the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. They have faced Ukrainian counterattacks, but have largely held their ground.

The governor of Dnipropetrovsk, in the central eastern area of Ukraine, said Wednesday that Russian forces struck two regions with artillery.

Amid Moscow’s push to take full control of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russians have gained marginal ground northeast of Bakhmut, according to a Washington D.C.–based think tank.

Russian forces, however, are unlikely to occupy significant additional territory in Ukraine “before the early autumn,” the Institute for the Study of War said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that Russian military losses have climbed to nearly 40,000, adding that tens of thousands more were wounded and maimed. His claim couldn’t be independently verified.

The Russian military last reported its losses in March, when it said that 1,351 troops were killed in action and 3,825 were wounded.

By Susie Blann