Ukraine wins again: In heavy fighting in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s armed forces claim to have wiped out an entire Russian battalion attempting a river crossing as the Russians try to take the industrial heartland of the region.
Fighting at the Fording of the River
The fighting was taking place west of the town of Severodonetsk along the Siversky Donets river, which is located southeast of the city of Kharkiv. Ukrainian troops have been steadily pushing the Russian troops back from Kharkiv, although the city is still targeted with air, artillery, and missile strikes.
The Ukrainian claim was backed by the British Defense Ministry, who confirmed that the Russians made three determined attempts to build pontoon bridges across the river, and each of them was thrown back with heavy losses. The Russian offensive in the Donbas is centered on the cities of Izium, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Sievierodonetsk.
The Russians continue attempts to forge a bridgehead over the river and drive toward the estuary. If they can accomplish that, they will encircle the key city of Severodonetsk. If they do that, it will allow them to attempt to encircle the Ukrainian forces in the industrial area of the Donbas. And the 650-mile-long river runs from Russia through Ukraine in the fighting area before flowing back inside Russia.
“Artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade of the #UAarmy have opened the holiday season for [Russian forces],” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a post on Twitter. “Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun.”
Ukraine War – Capturing the Fighting by Drone
Drone footage released by the Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command shows the devastation close to the river, where the sunken remains of the bridges are visible. Dozens of Russian armored vehicles are destroyed or abandoned on both sides of the river.
The Russians have so far been unable to make any significant advances, and once again suffered heavy casualties. However, the UK Defense Ministry says the Ukrainian claims of killing more than 1,000 troops seem high. But the Russians have lost “significant armored maneuver elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group,” which typically number between 700 and 1,000 troops.
On Friday, the UK MOD said, “Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”
Thus far, they have accomplished that they’re keeping the pressure on Ukraine, who have far fewer men and equipment.
Military analysts from the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War said there has been a “notable decline in the energy” in Russia’s advance from Izium, which could mean they may eventually abandon efforts for a wide encirclement of Ukraine’s troops in the Donbas. If that is the case, the Russians may opt to consolidate their gains and attempt “shallow” encirclements of Ukrainian troops around the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO, and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and for another military news organization, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.