Ukrainian forces strike a key bridge in the Russian-occupied south

Ukrainian servicemen shooting a recoil-less gun
Ukrainian servicemen shoot a recoil-less gun during training in the Kharkiv region, in northeastern Ukraine.
(Evgeniy Maloletka / Associated Press)
Share via

Ukrainian forces on Wednesday damaged a bridge that is key to supplying Russian troops in southern Ukraine, where Russia’s foreign minister said Moscow will consolidate its territorial gains.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state-controlled RT television and the RIA Novosti news agency in an interview published Wednesday that Russia plans to retain control over broader areas beyond eastern Ukraine, including the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south, and will make more gains elsewhere.

Lavrov’s remarks and the Ukrainian missile attack on the strategically important Kherson region bridge indicated the nearly five-month war could broaden after unfolding mostly in eastern Ukraine since April.


Russia’s top diplomat said that when Russia and Ukraine in March discussed a possible deal to end the hostilities, “our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the geography of March 2022.”

“Now it’s a different geography,” Lavrov said, repeating Moscow’s claims that the United States and Britain were encouraging Ukraine to expand the hostilities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran is intended to strengthen ties with regional heavyweights as Moscow presses its invasion of Ukraine.

July 19, 2022

With Western countries providing Ukraine with longer-range weapons, Lavrov said Russia’s “geographical tasks will be pushed even further from the current line because we cannot allow the part of Ukraine under control of President Volodymyr Zelensky or whoever comes to succeed him, to have weapons that will pose a direct threat to our territory and the territories of those republics that have declared their independence.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and quickly seized territory, but withdrew from the capital region and north to concentrate on seizing Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014.

As Russian forces captured more of the two provinces, which together make up Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, Ukrainian officials planned a counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied areas in the south.

The Ukrainian strike on the Dnieper River bridge, the second in two days, appeared intended to loosen Russia’s grip on the Kherson region.


Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-backed temporary administration in the region, said the Ukrainian military struck the Antonivskyi Bridge using U.S.-supplied HIMARS multiple-rocket launchers.

The nearly mile-long bridge is the main crossing across the Dnieper River in the region. Knocking it out would make it hard for the Russian military to keep supplying its forces in the region amid repeated Ukrainian attacks. Stremousov said that because of the bridge damage, pontoons would be constructed over the river.

The head of the Moscow-appointed Kherson administration, Vladimir Saldo, said in a video message that passenger vehicles were allowed to continue driving across the bridge, but truck traffic was halted to allow quick repairs. He noted that trucks could cross the river using a dam about 50 miles away.

Analysts say personnel moves by Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky are designed to strengthen his control over the army and security agencies.

July 18, 2022

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

Kherson — site of a major ship-building industry at the confluence of the Dnieper River and the Black Sea — is one of several areas a U.S. government spokesman said Russia is trying to annex.

White House national security council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials have amassed “ample” new evidence that Russia is looking formally to annex additional Ukraine territory and all of the Donbas through referendums, as soon as September.


As war rages, streets bearing names of famous Russians strike a discordant note for Ukraine

July 17, 2022

In Zaporizhzhia, Russian-installed authorities claimed Wednesday that Ukraine’s military had used drones to attack the local nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest. Vladimir Rogov, a local Moscow-appointed official, said three Ukrainian drones had hit the plant’s territory with explosives but not its reactor area. All normal operations continued, and no release of radiation was detected, he said. Russia’s state news agency Tass reported 11 plant workers were injured, four seriously. The news agency later quoted a Russian military official as saying the attack had occurred Monday.

Ukrainian authorities, who have over the last months reported Russian missiles almost hitting the plant, did not immediately comment on the report.

The bulk of Russia’s forces are fighting in the Donbas, where they have made slow gains facing Ukrainian resistance. The Russian military has used long-range missiles to strike targets across Ukraine, killing hundreds of civilians.

A 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome was walking to a speech therapist with her mother in central Ukraine when she was killed by a Russian missile.

July 15, 2022

Ukraine’s presidential office said that at least 13 civilians were killed and a further 40 wounded by the Russian shelling across the country in the last 24 hours.

On Wednesday, at least three more people died when Russia shelled the northeastern city of Kharkiv with “Hurricane” salvo rocket systems, authorities said.

The victims were a 69-year-old man and his wife and a 13-year-old boy who were waiting at a bus stop. The boy’s 15-year-old sister was injured, according to the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office. Video showed the boy’s father, apparently in a state of shock, praying above his son’s uncovered body and holding his hand.

Russia has repeatedly accused Ukraine of launching cross-border attacks. Another such report came Wednesday, when Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that Ukrainian forces had fired on two Russian border villages.

Most villagers were previously evacuated under a state of emergency, but Gladkov said the latest attack killed a man, and damaged homes and a village club.