Drone-controlled artillery strikes devastated Russian Federation (RF) attempts to assault across a critical river in the northern Luhansk sector, inflicting crippling losses and stopping cold a top priority Kremlin offensive, multiple sources said on Thursday.
A May 12 statement by Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS) said that UAF units defending the Siviersky River line, to the north of the top priority RF objective cities Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, caught RF armored columns out in the open with heavy artillery and rocket artillery, as they tried to drive across pontoon bridges to the north of the village Belohorodivka.
Images of the heavily-wooded crossing area, initially published by the satellite company BlackSky and widely re-published by Ukrainian official sources and independent media, showed RF pontoon bridges shattered and punctured from direct hits by heavy caliber munitions, and hulks of burnt-out RF tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and trucks, littering both sides of the ford. Remains of other vehicles were visible underwater.
Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk region defense administration, said during a May 11 evening television interview that Ukrainian intelligence believes RF units lost more than 30 armored vehicles and more than 400 men attempting to cross the river. Around 80 lightly-armed RF infantry and vehicle crew managed to reach the south bank of the river in disorganized small groups, and UAF regular infantry backed by territorial defense units are hunting them down, Haidai said.
“The Racistkies are trying to cross the river, but they’re only feeding the fish…with their corpses. Our troops are killing orcs (RF service personnel) like flies,” Haidai said.
The usually conservative AGS said UAF forces fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk regions over the past 24 hours repelled nine separate RF attacks and destroyed eight tanks, six infantry fighting vehicles, five trucks, one anti-aircraft system, and four heavy Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones.
Oleskiy Arestovych, an advisor to the Presidential Administration frequently appearing in media to put forward positive information about the course of the war, in May 11 evening television comments claimed the RF had suffered a crippling defeat on the Siviersky Donets that, effectively, will end any chance of the RF’s Donbas offensive of succeeding.
The Kremlin’s Donbas offensive, launched in late April, has per Moscow official statements the strategic goals of gaining full control of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions and encircling and annihilating more than 10,000 UAF troops further east. RF forces had been trying to blast a path across the Siviersky Donets for more than a week, as the main effort of that encirclement plan, UAF officials said.
Kremlin-controlled state media, which in past days had repeatedly declared UAF defenses along the Siviersky Donets line demolished and RF units across the river and advancing rapidly to the south against little resistance was, on Thursday, circumspect and modest in its reporting.
“We (RF forces) had a small advance to the south of Yampol (village). But to enter Belohoridivka and dig in, it appears, did not work out,” said the pro-RF Telegram news platform Readovka.
A May 12 British Defense Ministry statement said that fierce fighting and vicious UAF resistance in the Sieviersky Donets sector, and heavy RF losses, have forced the Kremlin to transfer troops as reinforcements from the western Kharkiv sector, allowing UAF forces there to advance almost unopposed.
RF state-controlled media and Ukrainian official sources said fighting was in progress between UAF forces advancing north from Kharkiv to the town Kozachi Lopan, less than a kilometer from the Kharkiv Region’s border with Russia.
RF units were fighting a rearguard action at the village Rubizhne, a Kharkiv Region village controlling another bridge across the Siviersky Donets River. Were the UAF to cross it, they would threaten a critical RF logistics and supply and railroad center, in the town of Vovchansk, likewise on the RF border.
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