Russia Could Face 'Significant' Setback Over Key Bridge: British Intel

Russian forces in Ukraine could face a "significant" military setback if they are denied the ability to cross a key bridge across the Dnipro river in the Kherson region.

The U.K.'s Ministry of Defence (MOD) reported in its intelligence update on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had caused damage to the Antonivsky Bridge but could not confirm Ukraine's claims that the Russians are attempting to construct another bridge.

The report comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine which began on February 24 in what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a "special military operation" and which has now become a major conflict involving U.S.-supplied weapons to Ukraine and harsh western sanctions on Russia.

The British defense ministry said that there had been heavy fighting over the past 48 hours in Ukraine's Kherson Oblast and suggested that crossings on the Dnipro could prove crucial.

"Russia is likely attempting to slow the Ukrainian attack using artillery fire along the natural barrier of the Ingulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro," the ministry tweeted.

"Simultaneously, the supply lines of the Russian force west of the Dnipro are increasingly at risk," the ministry noted.

The MOD said that Ukrainian strikes "have caused further damage to the key Antonivsky Bridge, though Russia has conducted temporary repairs" and the bridge was "almost certainly" open to some traffic as on Friday.

However, the ministry said it had not been possible to verify Ukrainian claims that the Russians were attempting to construct a military pontoon bridge across the Dnipro.

"The Russian army prioritizes maintaining its military bridging capability, but any attempt to construct a crossing of the Dnipro would be a very high risk operation," the MOD said.

"If the Dnipro crossings were denied, and Russian forces in occupied Kherson cut off, it would be a significant military and political setback for Russia," the intel update concluded.

Newsweek has asked the Russian government for comment.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian government said that Russian missiles had hit infrastructure in the port city of Odesa on the Black Sea. That comes a day after the countries signed a deal to re-open the Black Sea ports in order to allow for the export of grain.

"The enemy attacked the Odesa sea trade port with Kalibr cruise missiles; 2 missiles were shot down by air defense forces; 2 hit the infrastructure of the port," the Operational Command South said on Telegram.

A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Friday that Ukraine had successfully used U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to destroy more than 100 "high value" Russian targets.

Those targets reportedly included ammunition depots, long-range artillery positions, command posts, air-defense sites and radar and communications nodes.

A Russian Serviceman Stands Guard
A Russian serviceman guards a grain elevator in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia region, on July 14, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. Russia may be facing a "significant" military setback in the Kherson region. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images