Third bloody river battle in three days, says Ukrainian official

KYIV (Parliament Politics Magazine) – According to a Ukrainian army official, a botched river crossing in which a Russian battalion lost almost all of its armoured vehicles was the third attack of this nature in three days.

According to Serhiy Hayday, the chief of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, Russia is attempting to encircle a strategic east Ukrainian city by crossing the Siversky Donets.

Local forces, he claimed, had damaged helicopters and speedboats  and “ruined Russian boat bridges three times” in days of furious warfare.

Hundreds of burnt-out armoured vehicles line the riverbanks, according to images from the scene.

Russia began its attempt to cross the border on May 8, according to Ukrainian news agency InformNapalm.

However, Ukrainian soldiers destroyed the pontoon bridge in the river as soon as they crossed, and Russian troops “fell into the trap”.

The event, which the UK ministry of defence described as a “highly risky” effort to cross the water, underlined the pressure the commanders of Russia were under to make advances, the ministry alleged on Friday.

The river runs through the areas of Donestsk and Luhansk, both of which are important Russian military objectives.

The attacks have elicited no response from Moscow, and the BBC has not independently corroborated Mr Hayday’s account of the clashes.

However, the official described “a large accumulation” of Russian troops attempting to encircle Ukrainian positions on multiple occasions.

They haven’t been able to slow down Russia’s offensive pace, he remarked. Russia keeps attacking in that direction which has forced them to defend themselves, he added.

Ukrainian troops eliminated roughly 70 units of Russian heavy equipment and weapons in multiple raids, preventing attempts to cross.

It’s unclear how many Russian soldiers were killed in the battalion, which is expected to number over 500 soldiers.

Analysts believe crossing the river is a critical step in surrounding Ukrainian forces and capturing key cities like Severodonetsk.

A Ukrainian military analyst, Oleh Zhdanov, told the BBC that if they took that route and crossed the river in that area, the Russian Federation would be able to get closer to the estuary. They had devised a strategy to advance towards Severodonetsk.

The Russians value Severodonetsk because possessing it would allow them to drive west and connect with Russian forces pushing east of Izyum.

Despite the wreckage on the Siversky Donets’ banks, Russian soldiers are making headway in the surrounding districts.

Mr Hayday claimed that Moscow’s soldiers had taken Rubizhne and that the national guard was defending the town’s outskirts.

The Russians were attempting to remove their fighters, but they were unable to do so, he claimed, stating that the  Ukrainian positions were still extremely strong there.

Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces have forced Russian troops out of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

Kharkiv was heavily shelled at the start of the war and is strategically important to the Russians since it connects Crimea and areas backed by Russian insurgents.

Image via BBC

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.