Russian forces are conducting “highly risky” manoeuvres which suggest their military leaders are under pressure to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine, according to UK intelligence, after a battalion was wiped out trying to cross a river.
Footage released by Ukrainian forces appeared to show several burnt out military vehicles and segments of a bridge partially submerged in a river in the Donbas region.
The images showed many more damaged or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, in the woods and on the track leading to the river.
The UK Ministry of Defence said the footage suggested that Russia had lost almost an entire battalion and the pontoon bridging equipment deployed while crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk.
In its latest update on the situation on the ground in Ukraine, the MoD said Russia has failed to make “any significant advances” despite withdrawing and redeploying units from central and northern Ukraine to the east of the war-torn country.
“Russia is investing significant effort in the vicinity of Izium and Severodonetsk in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk,” it said.
“The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country.”
It added: “Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”
Other key developments:
• Germany begins training Ukrainian soldiers to use 155 mm self-propelled howitzer
• Russian agents ‘believe Putin is terminally ill’ after top-secret memo, report claims
• EU promises €500m more in military aid to Ukraine and says embargo on Russian oil is close
• YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook have been asked to archive content that could be used as evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine
• Relatives and supporters of Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Azovstal steel plant under bombardment in the southern port of Mariupol have held protests in Kyiv
It is the latest setback on the battlefield for the invading forces after Ukraine on Thursday claimed a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island in the Black Sea was set on fire as a result of a Ukrainian strike.
Satellite images captured by US-based company Maxar Technologies appeared to show the aftermath of what it said were probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near the island.
Russia is focusing on “liberating” Donbas as part of its “special military operation” after facing stiff Ukrainian resistance in the north.
Russian-backed separatists control part of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions which jointly make up the Donbas and Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants it entirely in pro-Russian hands.