(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine said its military continues to defend a narrow strip of land in Russian-occupied territory along the southern bend of the Dnipro River, after Russia’s defense minister told President Vladimir Putin it had been seized by his forces.

The bridgehead at Krynky lies on the opposite side of the river from the city of Kherson that Ukraine freed from Russian control in November 2022. Ukrainian troops remain at their positions on the land, the Southern Military Command said Wednesday on Telegram, dismissing Russian claims to have ousted them. 

Putin said he’d been informed by the military that the village of Krynky was “completely” under Russian control, during a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday. Shoigu confirmed the report and added that “We have troops stationed there.” 

War in Ukraine Is Turning in Putin’s Favor After Months of Stalemate

The Dnipro, which slices across eastern Ukraine, remains a major natural barrier between the two forces. After retaking Kherson, Ukrainian forces sought to establish a foothold on the opposite bank of the river as a potential springboard for a push into the occupied south of the country that so far hasn’t materialized.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy touted progress in the area in November, even as Ukraine’s long-planned counteroffensive against Russian forces was already losing steam.

With Russia’s full-scale invasion entering a third year, Ukraine’s prospects of liberating more land remain unclear amid uncertainly over vital military aid from the US and a shortage of munitions and soldiers. 

Russian forces scored a symbolic victory last week when Ukraine pulled troops out of the embattled eastern city of Avdiivka after months of combat. Russia’s military is probing Ukrainian defenses elsewhere along the 1,500-kilometer (923-mile) frontline, forcing Kyiv to spread out its increasingly scarce resources, the US-based Institute for the Study of War said. 

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