A general view shows the Antonovsky bridge closed for civilians, after it reportedly came under fire during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

By severely damaging the main bridges across the Dnieper River in the city of Kherson, the Ukrainians forced the Russians to reestablish their supply route as soon as possible. An undertaking that does not appear to be easy. Currently, a ferry is the only way to get supplies across the Dnieper.

Reports like the one in The New York Times circulated last week that Russia was trying to build a floating bridge next to the badly damaged Antonivka Bridge while restoration work was underway. A regional government official in Kherson wrote that the Russians used four tugboats to try and secure parts of the floating bridge.

The head of Ukraine’s military administration in Kherson said the Russian attempt was doomed to failure because “the current of the river made it impossible to build the crossings.” And apparently Russia didn’t even try. Rather, Russia wants to prevent the Ukrainians from completely destroying the bridges with rockets.

Satellite photos and video footage of ferry crossings near the heavily damaged Antonivka Bridge in Kherson show that Russian troops are installing radar reflectors instead of a floating bridge. This is also reported by the US magazine “The War Zone”. The reflectors stand in the water and are attached to the two main bridges, as can be seen in the pictures.

The reflectors are designed to confuse radar-guided missiles so that they don’t hit the bridge but the area where the reflectors are. Because of the reflectors, a “phantom bridge” appears on the radar west of the Antonivka Bridge.

However, the reflectors will not help the Russians against the US Himar multiple rocket launchers, which the Ukrainians had used to severely damage the bridges. Because the Himars don’t fire radar-guided missiles. The Himar’s missiles can be guided to a target via GPS.

The construction of the “phantom bridge” seems to be the only way for Russia to protect the bridge. However, it remains unclear whether Ukraine has any interest in completely destroying the Antonivka Bridge. Because that would make supplies in a possible counter-offensive just as difficult as the Russian supply is currently disrupted. Finally, Ukraine apparently believes that the greatest chance of success for such an offensive lies in the west of the Kherson region.