One bridge too far for Russian invaders as almost an entire unit was wiped out
Military experts agree that crossing a river in the midst of a conflict is not easy. But the Russian army’s attempt to build a pontoon across the Siverskyi Donets river was so disastrously flawed that it ended with a large part of a battalion being wiped out in the process.
If ever a battle in the brutal Ukraine War was emblematic of the failure of Russia’s military, perhaps it was this – the disastrous attempt to build a bridge across the Donets River.
Drone footage shows the aftermath of the bloody conflict. Russian army vehicles, including up to three dozen tanks and tracked vehicles, were blown to bits as the battalion assembled to make the crossing.
Reports, albeit unconfirmed, indicate that the river, its banks, and the surrounding forests are now the graveyard for up to 1,000 Russian troops.
If this were correct, the failed crossing of the Donets would represent the greatest loss of life suffered by Vladimir Putin’s forces since the war began 78 days ago.
Taking to social media, a Ukrainian soldier going by the name of Maxim explained how the Ukrainian army had stumbled upon the Russian advance and thwarted it to devastating effect.
Ukrainian forces were waiting until the pontoon bridge was almost completed and Russian vehicles were driving on it when artillery aimed at the area, said Maxim, an engineer sent to reconnaissance who had identified the spot where Russia planned to cross .
During a counterattack, a Ukrainian riverboat commando, possibly a special forces unit, had determined when the Russians began building the pontoon.
Visibility was virtually zero as Russian troops threw smoke grenades and set fire to nearby trees.
The Ukrainians had waited until they heard the chug of Russian tugs building the bridge, monitoring progress and then calling in artillery and drone strikes.
Footage captured by a drone shows the carnage that followed the Ukrainian attack: at least two and possibly three makeshift bridges were sunk and the remains of Russian military vehicles scattered on either side of the river bank and in the woods beyond.
Russian troops who had crossed the river were then stranded and subjected to massacre.
Ben Barry, a retired Brigadier and former British Army Chief of Staff at the UK Ministry of Defence, said: “No one claims river crossings are easy, but the higher the standard of military leadership, command and tactical training, the more likely it is achieved.”
Mr Barry, Senior Fellow in Land Warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had seen the battlefield photos and added: “These reports are consistent with other evidence of Russian military performance from the Kyiv and Kharkiv battles. A river crossing is one of the most difficult tasks in warfare.” In other words, a well-trained army would have difficulty crossing the Siverskyi Donets River, and the Kremlin’s forces do not fall into this category.
The Siverskyi Donets (Donets for short) flows for 650 miles through the Donbass, the region in eastern Ukraine to which fighting shifted after Putin abandoned his plan for a quick victory by capturing Kyiv and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president, settled.
The Donets rises in Russia and meanders southeast through Ukraine before re-entering Russian territory and emptying into the Don, which empties into the Sea of Azov near Rostov-on-Don.
Kremlin troops had hoped to cross the Donets near Bilohorivka, an impoverished town in the Luhansk region. A Russian battalion is believed to have attempted to cross the border to surround Lysychansk, an industrial center in Donbass ten miles away.
In his post on Twitter, Maxim claims to have identified the location of the planned May 7 crossing and reported it to his unit. A day later, the sound of Russian tugs maneuvering into position was spotted, signaling the start of the attack.
There will inevitably be speculation that Ukraine had aid from the West.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that “information on the location and movements of Russian forces is pouring into Ukraine in real time” and that this information “includes satellite imagery and reports obtained from sensitive US sources,” likely involving high-tech spy surveillance Russian command means posts.
“The intelligence is very good. It tells us where the Russians are so we can meet them,” a Ukrainian official told the newspaper.
The officer then made a hand signal to mimic a bomb falling on their target.
Russia’s progress in Donbass, like its previous attack on Kyiv, has stalled badly. His inability to cross rivers will play a role of its own.
On Twitter, Maxim boasted that he “played off” Russia’s military engineers because his engineers “were trying to build a bridge EXACTLY where I suspected.”
Russian forces had managed to place the pontoon and troops and vehicles had begun crossing it. At this point, Maxim said, “the struggle began.”
Twenty minutes after the recon team confirmed the existence of the Russian bridge, heavy artillery began shelling its position.
According to reports, the 17th Armored Brigade of the Ukrainian Army, using T-64 tanks and BMP armored vehicles, opened fire using their 2S1 122-millimeter tracked howitzers.
The shelling destroyed Russian T-72 and T-80 tanks and two dozen tracked armored vehicles, as well as bridging equipment and a tugboat.
“I was still in the area and I’ve never seen/heard such heavy fighting in my life,” Maxim said. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022)
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/a-bridge-too-far-for-russian-invaders-as-almost-a-whole-unit-wiped-out-41645055.html One bridge too far for Russian invaders as almost an entire unit was wiped out