After the Battle of Kursk, the Germans were on the defensive in the Ukraine, and built a series of heavy fortifications along the Dnieper River. Against these, on 26 August 1943, the Red Army launched a series of rapid ground attacks on five fronts over a period of four months, mounting a massive airborne assault, and eventually establishing several bridgeheads on the river’s western bank. Conventional troops were supported by partisans activities, which disrupted German supply routes and communications. The battle was one of the largest operations in World War II, involving 4 million troops along a front totalling 87 miles (1,400 km) from Smolensk to the Azov Sea. It was also one of the costliest, with combined losses estimated to be as high as 2.5 million. The offensive culminated in the Soviets’ liberation of Kiev in December 1943.
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