Russian forces are said to have lost dozens of tanks and military vehicles when their pontoon bridge over the Siversky Donets River was sunk by Ukraine.
On the 79th day of fighting, fighting in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine turned into a tug-of-war between Russia and Ukraine, especially in areas with difficult terrain.
The Ukrainian Air Force released a photo of a Russian pontoon bridge submerged in the river Silversky Donets in the eastern region, as well as several destroyed or damaged military vehicles nearby. The Ukrainian side claims they prevented many attempts by Russian forces to cross the river, damaging or abandoning dozens of tanks and military vehicles.
British defenses said Russia had lost “a significant quantity of armored vehicles” from at least one battalion-level battle group (BTG) as well as equipment for deploying pontoon bridges in the unsuccessful attempt to cross the river.
“The river crossing in a highly contested environment shows the pressure Russian commanders are facing to make progress in their military campaign in eastern Ukraine,” the UK MoD said.
In the south, Ukraine announced an attack on the supply ship Vsevolod Bobrov, which was transporting an air defense system to the island Zmeinyy at the Black Sea. Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said the Vsevolod Bobrov was badly damaged but not yet sunk.
Russia did not comment on the above information.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov announced that the country’s air defense forces shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and three Ukraine Tochka-U ballistic missiles that were attacking Zmeinyy Island.
Satellite images released by BlackSky, an American tech company, show at least 7 helicopters appearing at the city’s airbase. MelitopolSoutheast Ukraine, suggesting Russian forces could use the facility.
The air base in Melitopol is considered important as it is located between the cities of Kherson and Mariupol and the Donbass areas controlled by the separatists.
In a difficult situation on the ground, Russian forces intensified their long-range attacks. Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, confirmed that Russia is using high-precision weapons to attack Ukrainian military installations in Kyiv.
“We only target the military infrastructure. Damage to civilian infrastructure is in large part caused by Ukraine’s missile defense system and they admit it,” Mr Polyansky said.
The self-proclaimed Defense Service of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said Ukrainian forces shelled a gas station in the city. Dokuchaevsk, two people were injured and several vehicles damaged. The RT channel reported that the two injured people filming their video were hit in the back and leg by shrapnel while working in the area.
Lieutenant General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Defense Control Center of the Russian Defense Ministry, accused the Ukrainian side of “in any way impeding the evacuation of civilians” and “nationalists firing and shelling mortars at the exits of residential areas”.
General Mizintsev announced that Russia is evacuating civilians and foreigners from dangerous areas. He reiterated that Russia is ready to open more evacuation corridors in other directions while ensuring the safe evacuation of civilians to Russia, to the territory controlled by Ukrainian Armed Forces or to a third country.
Ukraine has not commented on these reports.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has so far registered more than 6 million Ukrainians who left the country after February 24, when Russia launched a military operation to “demilitarize and defascize Ukraine”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 7,839 civilian casualties in Ukraine, of whom 3,573 died and 3,816 were injured. The agency warned the actual number could be much higher.
Western experts say the battlefield situation in southern Ukraine has changed little. Russia controls a significant area in the province Kherson and Zaporizhia, but not further north. Russian troops continue to raid the city Odesa and other coastal areas that Ukraine still controls.
US Intelligence Director Avril Haines said both Russia and Ukraine “believe they can continue to make military advances, so we don’t see a viable avenue for negotiation, at least in the short term.”
“Over the next few months, hostilities could take a more unpredictable turn and likely escalate,” Haines predicted.
Nguyen Tien (Corresponding TASS, AP)