Ukraine wipes out Russian forces crossing open bridge in ‘highly risky maneuver'

Images show dozens of charred or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, in the woods and on the track leading to the river

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Ukrainian forces prevented an attempted Russian river crossing by Russian troops in the Donbas, the UK military said in an intelligence update.

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The river at issue was the Siversky Donets in Bilohorivka in the Luhansky oblast, the region’s governor said. The Siverskyi Donets flows through Kharkiv and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine.

Images tweeted by Ukraine’s Strategic Communications Directorate appeared to show several burned out military vehicles and segments of a bridge partially submerged in the river. The images showed many more damaged or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, in the woods and on the track leading to the river.

“Artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade of the #UAarmy have opened the holiday season for (Russian forces),” the ministry wrote on Twitter. “Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun.”

The UK termed such crossings in a contested environment “a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”

The meandering river, made up of marshy wetlands and oxbow lakes, is a “nightmare” for a military to traverse, reports CNN. Russian troops have found some success in crossing the river farther west, but it’s not yet clear if this is sustainable in higher numbers, the outlet reports.

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Ukraine’s advances near Kharkiv could put some of Russia’s main supply lines to eastern Ukraine, located on the far bank of the river, within the range of Ukrainian artillery, and even let it bombard staging areas inside Russia.

Russian forces may be abandoning efforts at a “wide encirclement” of Ukrainian troops along the Izyum-Slovyansk-Debaltseve line in favor of shallower encirclements of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, according to US-based analysts at the Institute for the Study of War. The two cities are part of Moscow’s main assault in the eastern Donbas region and near the location of the failed river crossing.

Additional reporting from National Post and Reuters

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