Ukraine accuses Russia of hiding warships next to cargo vessels.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Friday, June 3 accused the Russian navy of hiding its warships next to anchored cargo vessels and fishing trawlers, in a maritime version of soldiers taking cover behind civilians.
“The leadership of the Black Sea Fleet began to use the insidious ‘Russian tactics’ known since 2014, but now also at sea,” the statement said in part. “Hiding warships behind merchant ships, the invaders continue to destroy peaceful Ukrainian cities and kill our citizens with Kaliber cruise missiles.”
According to the MoD claim, RF warships have moved out of the port of Sevastopol and anchored offshore, adjacent to at least six cargo ships and eight fishing vessels. All have their international maritime navigational transponders turned off, making a Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) precision-guided missile strike against the warships difficult, because the anti-ship missiles operated by Ukraine would have difficulty discerning between a cargo vessel and a warship, the statement said.
Neither the Friday, June 3 daily defense briefing by the Kremlin, nor the RF-managed Readovka military news platform made reference to the UAF allegations about the RF’s Black Sea Fleet and Sevastopol.
On June 2 the announcement of planned delivery to Ukraine of three high tech precision strike systems well-adapted for attacks against warships: RBS17 anti-ship missiles from Sweden, and M270 and HIMARS rocket artillery launchers, from the United States.
Ground combat and artillery strikes were reported across the Donbas front on Friday, June 3, as Russian Federation (RF) forces widened an offensive towards the town of Slovyansk against grudging Ukrainian defenses, news reports and official statements said.
A morning situation update from the Army General Staff (AGS) said elements of the RF’s 150th Mechanized Infantry Brigade had taken “at least 50 percent” losses in a failed attempt to capture the town of Svyatohirsk, on the Siviersky Donets River.
The RF in late April launched an offensive to capture Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk Regions. Combat lasting all of May brought the Kremlin limited gains at the cost of devastating casualties, particularly in attempts to bridge the Siviersky Donets River east of Svyatohirsk, near the town of Lyman, where repeated RF assaults failed against massed Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) artillery strikes.
Ukrainian military observer Denys Davydov in comments on June 3 said that the RF command has now shifted forces from the Lyman sector westward, and is likely in coming days to attempt to cross the river near Svyatohirsk, in an attempt to advance towards Slovyansk. UAF forces are entrenched in Svyatohirsk’s north and preparing defenses, he said.
In the heavily fought-over town of Severodonetsk, UAF forces launched a limited counterattack, the censor.net and other independent Ukrainian news platforms reported, regaining portions of the residential district. RF forces including Chechen auxiliaries still hold at least half of Severodonetsk and intense house-to-house fighting is in progress, said Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional defense command, in a June 3 statement.
UAF units in Severodonetsk and the adjacent town of Lysychansk are heavily dependent on a secondary road called the T-13-02 which has become, as RF units have pressed forward, practically the only supply route in the sector for Ukrainian forces. The roadway has been shelled by RF artillery but UAF units had slightly widened defense positions to either side of it, and supply vehicles were transiting the road, the AGS statement said.
In the southern sector, Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia regional defense command on June 3 reported RF artillery strikes on more than a dozen villages and towns, with the heaviest fires hitting the towns of Velyka Novosilka, Orkhiv and Hulaipole.
The statement confirmed June 2 reports of heavy explosions in the port of the occupied city of Berdyansk in Zaporizhzhya Region as most likely an accident took place as RF troops were loading or unloading explosives.
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