- by theguardian
- 19 May 2022
Ukrainians have repelled multiple attempts by the Russians to cross a strategically significant river in the Donbas, inflicting heavy losses in the process, according to local officials and British intelligence.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces had been repulsed three times as they tried to cross the Siverskyi Donets River, 12 miles (20km) west of Severodonetsk, losing armour and bridging equipment.
"We have eliminated Russian speedboats and helicopters which they used to cover their attempts," the governor added, while aerial photography showed destroyed pontoon bridges and armour by the riverbanks.
Earlier on Friday, British defence intelligence said Russia had lost "significant armoured manoeuvre elements" from a battalion tactical group - a formation with about 800 personnel at full strength - from the failed efforts.
Russian attempts to gain territory in the Donbas are increasingly focused on Severodonetsk, the easternmost town held by Ukrainian forces - and the Russian forces were trying to cross the river in an attempt to cut off the town.
Ukraine's defence ministry tweeted pictures of a smashed pontoon bridge and destroyed armoured vehicles in Bilohorivka on Wednesday, describing them as showing victims of "artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade".
The British assessment appeared to verify that, and quantify the level of loss - effectively the equipment strength of one battalion of up to 90 Russian units operating in and near Ukraine.
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