Ukrainian soldier admits some of the marines trying to defend a key river against Russian attack 'can't even swim'

  • A Ukrainian soldier told the BBC about problems they were facing on a key part of the frontline.

  • The soldier said Ukrainian forces were being reinforced by inexperienced conscripts.

  • Ukraine recently established a foothold in Russian-occupied territory on the bank of the Dnipro.

A Ukrainian soldier told the BBC that soldiers sent to help defend recent Ukrainian advances on the Dnipro river were so inexperienced they couldn't even swim.

The soldier, whom the BBC did not name, provided a vivid account of the obstacles facing Ukrainian forces in defending their foothold on the Russian-occupied east bank of the Dnipro in south Ukraine.

The advance has been hailed as a triumph by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and came after weeks of stalemate in fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces near Kherson.

But the soldier said Ukrainian forces were experiencing serious shortages in equipment and reinforcements as they defended their positions, which were under relentless Russian attack.

"Several brigades were supposed to be posted here, not individual companies — we just don't have enough men," said the soldier.

"There are a lot of young guys among us. We need people, but trained people, not the green ones we have there now. There are guys who had spent just three weeks in training and only managed to shoot a few times," he said.

"Everyone who wanted to volunteer for war came a long time ago — it's too hard now to tempt people with money. Now we're getting those who didn't manage to escape the draft. You'll laugh at this, but some of our marines can't even swim," the soldier added.

As the war with Russia approaches its second year, Ukraine is experiencing serious manpower problems and concerns that international support for its resistance to the invasion may be beginning to fade.

In the wake of the invasion, thousands of Ukrainians enlisted in the military. But amid steep casualty figures, these figures are believed to have dropped. Ukraine does not publish recruitment and enlistment figures.

In a recent essay for The Economist, Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine's supreme military commander, admitted troop shortages were hampering Ukraine's campaign against Russia.

Russia has also experienced high casualty rates but has a population much larger than Ukraine's, and last year drafted about 300,000 civilians to fight in the military.

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