Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

A drone photo shows some of the dozens of armored vehicles burned on the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka, Ukraine on May 12.
A drone photo shows some of the dozens of armored vehicles burned on the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka, Ukraine on May 12. (from the command of the Ukrainian Airborne Forces)

Satellite imagery and first-hand testimony provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the border. Seversky Donets River in eastern Ukraine over the past week.

New video and analysis of drone and satellite imagery shows that the Russians may have lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment trying to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle the Ukrainian defenses in Luhansk regionBut it failed spectacularly.

In her account of the battle, Ukraine’s 80th Separate Brigade said it “destroyed the buoys and thwarted nine attempts to cross.”

It claimed that “at least 73 units of equipment, including T-72 tanks” and a variety of BMPs, were destroyed.

This toll appears to be corroborated by drone video analysis showing Russian equipment scattered along a course north of the river, as well as half-submerged tanks.

It is clear that the Ukrainians had previously worked out the places where the Russians were likely to attempt to position the buoys and had noticed the approach of the Russian units. The survey of potential crossing points began at least two days before the Russian attempt.

The Siverskyi Donets are flowing fast and it seems that the Russians needed motorized locomotives to try and complete the bridge. The noise was further evidence for the Ukrainian units that an attempt to gain control of the river was underway.

The 80th Brigade says in its account, “Despite the heavy losses, the enemy managed to break through … to gain a foothold in the northern outskirts of one of the settlements.” At least 30 Russian vehicles and infantry crossed.

Other Ukrainian officials say that those Russian units that had already crossed north of the village of Belhorivka, were stranded.

“The fierce fighting continued for nearly two days,” the 80th Brigade said on its Facebook page. “The paratroopers destroyed an entire Tactical Battalion (BTG) group of invaders!”

Open source analysis suggests this may be true, as at least 30 BMPs were counted among the wreckage at the pontoon site, not counting what might have been destroyed among the equipment that passed through it.

In his analysis of the episode Institute for the Study of War She said “The Ukrainian forces most likely caused heavy losses in the ranks of the Russian forces that tried to cross the Seversky Donets River.”

“The Russian forces have probably lost the momentum necessary to carry out a large-scale crossing of the Seversky Donets River,” she added.

Mick Ryan, a former major in the Australian Armed Forces who studies the conflict in Ukraine tweeted: “The Russians clearly intend to invest in this hub and throw a lot of combat power into it.

“As a result, this is probably a bigger setback for the Russians than some expected,” Ryan said in a post published on his verified Twitter account.

“It is possible that not only did he produce BTG but an entire brigade might have lost a significant part of his fighting power.”

“Most importantly, the Russians lost rare bridge-building equipment to engineers (and possibly combat engineers as well). These resources are neither cheap nor available in large quantities. They are in high demand during the offensive.”

The inability of the Russians to advance from the north across the river likely slowed their offensive at Luhansk, which for the time being relied on forces moving from east and south across front lines that had moved little in the space of a month.