Officials say Russia suffers losses from failed river crossing

by OLEKSANDR STASHEVSKYI and DAVID KEYTON

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops suffered heavy losses in an attack in Ukraine that destroyed a pontoon bridge they used to try to cross a river in the east, Ukrainian and British officials said, in Moscow’s efforts to salvage a battle that has ended. Another sign of war. wrong.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities on Friday began the conflict’s first war crimes trial. The defendant is a captured Russian soldier accused of shooting a 62-year-old civilian early in the war.

The trial begins as Russia’s offensive in the Donbass, the industrial heart of eastern Ukraine, appears increasingly to be a bitter war of attrition.

The Ukrainian Airborne Command released photos and videos of what it said were a damaged Russian pontoon bridge over the Donets River in Sivorski and several destroyed or damaged Russian military vehicles nearby. The command said its forces “drowned the Russian occupiers”.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Russia lost at least one battalion of “significant armoured maneuver units” in the attack earlier this week.

“The river crossing in a contested environment is a high-risk operation, which shows that Russian commanders are under pressure to make progress in operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

In other developments, Finland’s and possibly Sweden’s move to join NATO has been criticized when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was “disapproved” of the idea question. He accused Sweden and other Scandinavian countries of supporting Kurdish militants and other terrorists that Turkey considers.

Erdogan did not say outright that he would prevent the two countries from joining NATO. But the military alliance decides by consensus, meaning each of its 30 member states has a veto over who can join.

NATO expansion would be a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who waged war to stop NATO’s eastward advance. But the invasion of Ukraine has fueled fears in other countries on Russia’s flank that they could be next.

The EU foreign affairs chief announced plans to provide Kyiv with an additional 500 million euros ($520 million) for heavy weapons as Ukraine requested more weapons to fend off the invasion.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Western heavy weapons are now entering the front lines – including US 155mm howitzers – and it will take some time to turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor . He acknowledged that the war will not end anytime soon.

“We are entering a new, protracted phase of war,” Reznikov wrote in a Facebook post. “Extremely difficult weeks await us. How many? No one can say for sure.”

The battle for the Donbass turned into a village-by-village back-and-forth, with neither side making a major breakthrough and making little progress.

Olekhzhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst, said heavy fighting took place on the Seversky Donets River near the city of Severo Donetsk. He said the Ukrainian military launched a counterattack but failed to stop Russia’s advance.

“The fate of the bulk of the Ukrainian army is being decided — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

Russian troops opened fire on residential areas 31 times the previous day, destroying dozens of houses, especially in the villages of Hirske and Popasnianska, as well as a bridge in Rubizhne, the military chief of Ukraine’s Luhansk region of Donbas said on Friday.

In the south, Ukrainian officials claimed another success in the Black Sea, saying their forces had shot down another Russian vessel, but there was no confirmation from Russia and no reports of casualties.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the Vsevolod Bobrov logistics ship was hit while trying to deliver an air defense system to Snake Island and was badly damaged, but is not thought to have sunk.

In April, Ukraine sank the flagship missile cruiser Moskva of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. In March, it destroyed a landing ship.

Justin Crump, a former British tank commander and now a security adviser, said Moscow’s losses had forced it to scale back its targets. The Russians had to use hastily pieced units that were not trained together and were therefore less efficient, he said.

“It’s not going to be fast. So we settled for at least a summer of fighting. I think the Russian side is very clear that it’s going to take a long time,” he said.

Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating thousands of potential war crimes. Many of the alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow troops abandoned their occupation of Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, exposing mass graves and streets strewn with bodies.

In the first war crimes case tried, Russian Sgt. On February 28, four days after the invasion, 21-year-old Vadim Shyshimarin was arrested if he shot a Ukrainian man in the head from a car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy region. Convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

In a small courtroom in Kyiv, dozens of journalists watched the start of the wartime proceedings, and international observers will be watching closely to ensure a fair trial.

The defendant, dressed in a blue-gray hoodie and gray sweatpants, sat in a small glass cage during the proceedings, which lasted about 15 minutes and will continue on Wednesday.

Shyshimarin was asked a series of questions, including whether he knew his rights and whether he wanted a jury trial. He rejected the latter.

His representative in Ukraine, Victor Ovsyanikov, conceded that the case against the soldier was convincing, without specifying how he would defend himself.

Shishmarin, a member of the tank unit captured by the Ukrainian army, admitted to shooting at civilians in a video released by Ukraine’s security service, saying he was ordered to do so.

As the war continues, teachers are trying to regain some sense of normalcy after fighting closed schools in Ukraine and upended the lives of millions of children.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, the subway station has become home to many families. Children and their teacher Valeriy Leiko study historical art around a table with children’s drawings on the walls.

“It helps to support them spiritually. Because there is a war now, many people have lost their homes … some people whose parents are fighting now,” Lecco said. In part because of the classes, he said, “they felt like someone loved them.”

An older student, Anna Fedoryaka, monitors a professor’s online lecture on Ukrainian literature.

Internet connectivity is a problem for some, she said. “It’s hard to concentrate when you have to do your homework with the window exploding.”

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Yesica Fisch in Bachmut, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkov, Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Elena Becatoros in Odessa, and other AP staffers around the world contributed to this report .

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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