Ukraine Regains Key Foothold on River Bank: British Intel

Ukrainian forces have managed to take back control from Russian invaders a key patch of land, amid fierce fighting along a riverbank, according to British intelligence sources.

The U.K.'s Ministry of Defence, which released an intelligence update on the war early on Wednesday, June 8, said Ukrainian troops had secured a victory by retaking a crucial "foothold" on the Ingulets River.

The river is in the southwestern Kherson region, where bitter fighting has raged after the Ukrainians launched a counter-attack following Russian occupation.

The British report stated: "Ukrainian forces have recently achieved some success by counter-attacking in the southwestern Kherson region, including regaining a foothold on the eastern bank of the Ingulets River."

Destroyed bridge in Rusaniv, Ukraine
A British intelligence report claims Ukraine has regained a foothold on the Ingulets River. Pictured: Ukrainians cross a river next to a destroyed bridge in the village of Rusaniv, in the Kyiv region, on April 16, 2022. Getty Images

However, the assessment painted a grimmer picture for the Ukrainian side overall, noting that Kherson has been occupied by Russia, which has now "forcibly" introduced Russian currency and begun teaching the Russian language and curriculum in schools.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's defenses were reportedly at a stalemate in the Severodonetsk area [also spelled Sieverodonetsk in English], where troops were holding their position but were having to fight off Russian assaults from three directions.

On Tuesday, Russia bragged that every suburb in the eastern city of had been captured by its forces, although a pocket of resistance remained.

The British intelligence report said, in full: "Russia continues to attempt assaults against the Sieverodonetsk pocket from three directions, although Ukrainian defences are holding. It is unlikely that either side has gained significant ground in the last 24 hours.

"While Russia is concentrating its offensive on the central Donbas sector, it has remained on the defensive on its flanks. Ukrainian forces have recently achieved some success by counter-attacking in the southwestern Kherson region, including regaining a foothold on the eastern bank of the Ingulets River.

"With the frontage of the occupied zone stretching for over 500km, both Russia and Ukraine face similar challenges in maintaining a defensive line while freeing up capable combat units for offensive operations.

"In the occupied Kherson region, Russia is forcibly aligning its administration with that of the Russian Federation by introducing the Russian ruble as legal tender and employing Russian teachers to introduce the Russian curriculum and language to schools. Russia will highly likely claim its occupation of Kherson as evidence of delivering improved governance and living standards to the Ukrainian people."

The last update to Ukraine's Ministry of Defense website was on June 5, so there is no confirmation as yet of the British intelligence claims of a measure of success along the Ingulets River.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told British newspaper the Financial Times that a stalemate in the war was "not an option for us" and renewed his appeals for more Western military support.

Russian news agency Tass's most recent release, on June 8, did not mention the Ingulets River, Kherson, or Severodonetsk.

But instead focused on Russian authorities blaming the West for fanning the flames of the conflict. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told Sputnik Radio that the West was not willing to discuss a peaceful solution.

She said: "Peaceful settlement is off the table as far as Ukraine is concerned, that is the concept of NATO-centered Washington and Western countries in general."

While another release, also from June 8 but given earlier in the day, reiterated Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims that he was simply pursing a military operation to achieve "denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine."

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for comment.

The British intelligence assessment comes on the 105th day of the war, which began when Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.

The attack created the largest military conflict and worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Putin has been widely condemned by the West, and U.S. President Joe Biden was among those pledging support and weapons to Ukraine, while hitting Russia with sanctions.