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Kherson under AFU control, Antonivka bridge blown up, trenches in Crimea. What’s happening on the front line?

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The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has announced that it has regained control of Kherson, which Russia seized in early March. The city had been occupied for more than eight months. Russian servicemen who remain in Kherson have been called upon to surrender, with the Ukrainian side promising them safety and the possibility of an eventual exchange.

Kherson residents took to the streets with Ukrainian flags and greeted the Ukrainian Armed Forces as they entered the city from its western outskirts. Following the retreat of the Russian military, propaganda posters with the words “Russia is here forever” were torn down in Kherson’s suburbs.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnipro river ended at 05:00 on November 11. Later, the ministry said that more than 30,000 Russian servicemen had been withdrawn to the left bank. Spokesman Igor Konashenkov added that “about five thousand units of military equipment, as well as materiel” were transferred to the left bank of the Dnipro River.

“As a result of effective management and coordinated actions of Russian units, not a single piece of military equipment and weaponry was left on the right bank. All Russian servicemen were transferred to the left bank of the Dnipro,” Konashenkov said.

Despite the fact that the Russian Defense Ministry claims that not a single vehicle was left behind during the retreat (there are allegedly no casualties among personnel either), images and videos of AFU trophies in Kherson are being circulated on social networks – for example, a T-90A tank.

Detonation of the Antonivka Road Bridge

On the night of November 11, as Russian troops were leaving Kherson, the Antonivka Road Bridge over the Dnipro river was blown up. The destruction is evident from photos and videos posted by Russian bloggers and Ukrainian media. The OSINTtechnical project has also reported that the Antonivka railway bridge, located 6 km away from the main road bridge, was also blown up.

Maxar Technologies has published satellite photos of the bridge, which show that its structure has collapsed in several places, with some spans submerged. The railroad track bed has also been destroyed.

A video depicting Russian soldiers walking across the barge bridge, located side-by-side to the Antonivka Road Bridge, was circulated on Telegram channels.

Closer to the evening of November 11, the Russian propaganda publication Izvestia released a video of the Antonivka bridge bombing.

The main grouping of Russian troops had left long before Sergey Shoigu's order and the subsequent detonation of the bridge. Russian troops were crossing the Dnipro river through the night, as can be seen on satellite images. Several ferries and barges were documented crossing the river at once.

After the detonation of the bridges, the Russian army’s offensive on Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih became impossible, as the Dnipro river became the line of combat contact on the southern section of the front line. The territory on both sides of the river is flat with excellent visibility, and the right bank is slightly higher than the left bank, which gives a strategic advantage to the AFU.

The Mykolayiv region was almost completely liberated from the Russian military the day before, according to a report by MP Roman Kostenko, the secretary of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on national defense. As of November 11, this report has been confirmed by the head of the Mykolaiv Regional Military Administration Vitalii Kim, who noted that the Kinburn Spit still remained under the control of Russian troops.

Defense preparations in Crimea

The withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson and the right bank of the Dnipro and Kherson opens up many opportunities for Ukraine, both logistically and militarily. In particular, new strike zones for HIMARS MLRS missiles are emerging. The range of M31 ammunition for HIMARS is 85 km. Based on this we can assume that the AFU, if not get to the Crimea, will probably get to the section of the railroad at the entrance to the peninsula.

Military expert and AFU reserve colonel Roman Svitan told The Insider that the Ukrainian army will now begin sweeping Kherson and rebuilding the city.

“There will be sweeps, the Ministry of Emergency Situations will go in, the city will be demined, the special services will go in to filter the city – the tasks will be identical to those that have already been practiced in the Kharkiv region, in Izyum and Kupyansk. They’ll follow the same algorithm in the Kherson region – the sweep will happen at once and recovery and general filtration will last several weeks.”

According to Svitan, Ukrainian troops will take positions on the left bank in the coming days, but in the Crimea, most likely, will go in later.

“It takes several tens of thousands of well-trained troops to go into Crimea, which will be transferred from the right bank to the left bank. I don't think that from a military point of view, going into the Crimea now is justified. It’s possible to occupy a certain bridgehead, for example, from Oleshky to the Black Sea, but moving directly to the Crimea will depend on the number of means and personnel. Theoretically it is possible, although in reality it is better to move Ukrainian troops to the left bank and put further pressure on the Russian troops from near Orikhove, Hulyaipole, Tokmak and Melitopol. There’s also the option of going out from under Orikhove to Mariupol, or maybe both. I would start mopping up corridors to the Crimea by cutting it near Mariupol, Melitopol or Berdiansk. It would be much easier to deal with the left-bank grouping of Russians there and enter Crimea from Melitopol.”

Meanwhile, Russian military equipment is moving en masse near the town of Oleshky, the WarMonitor project reported, citing input from local residents.

Russia has also apparently begun preparations to defend Crimea. Workers from the Russian Avtoban holding company are digging trenches In the southeastern part of the Kherson region, in the village of Henicheska Horka (Henichesk Hill) near the border with Crimea, reported newspaper Sirena. A relative of one of the workers said that the construction workers came on a business trip until November 20, the workers are promised to be paid 6,500 rubles (close to $105) per day. Footage published from the village shows Russian military equipment moving in.

In a conversation with The Insider, military expert Sergey Grabsky also noted that there is no need to pursue the enemy on the left bank at the current moment.

“Ukrainian troops on the left bank are in the zone on the line from Vasilievka, Orikhove and Hulyaipole. There is no need to force the Dnipro. This triangle of Novaya Kakhovka, Armiansk and Hola Prystan is within the AFU’s firing range. Why put soldiers' lives at risk when it is possible to destroy the enemy with long-range firing systems? Any operation to force the river will require a great strain of resources, and there’s not much point in that, as the next target is Melitopol. This triangle has value only in the sense that it is a cover for the North Crimean Canal. Yes, Russian troops can entrench there and make defense lines, but it’ll be a training ground for Ukrainian target practice. They’ll try to shell Kherson and it’ll probably look like Mykolaiv. The Russian criminals have destroyed all civilian infrastructure, looted the city and will now turn it into rubble. Soldiers don't do that, soldiers don't fight civilians. They’ll shell the city, and the AFU will respond. What we saw from August to November on the right bank is being transferred to the left bank. It’s now important to look towards Melitopol, as with the liberation of Melitopol this entire part of southern Ukraine just collapses. It will be difficult for Russia to hold [southern Ukraine] – as difficult as it has been to hold the Kherson region for the past two days.”

The Donetsk direction

Pro-Russian Telegram channels report that Russian troops today took Opytne and slightly advanced in Pervomaiske. Fighting continues for Vodyane. According to Boris Rozhin, an expert of the Center for Political and Military Journalism, the Russian offensive plan is quite transparent: take Pervomaiske and Vodyane and turn to Tonenke, the capture of which will draw the Orlivka-Avdiivka road within firing range, creating a direct threat of encirclement of the AFU grouping in Avdiivka.

The AFU has attempted an offensive in the directions of Zaitseve and Otradivka near Bakhmut, writes the Telegram channel Rybar. According to these reports, the attack has been thwarted.

Pro-Russian channels are also claiming that Russian troops have occupied Maiorsk near Horlivka.

Read more in The Insider's summary of November 10's news: Reports of Ukrainian intelligence in Kherson and a Russian flag in Pavlivka. What's happening on the front line?

Anna Titova

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