The Russian army has suffered heavy losses, including the destruction of around three dozen tanks, after the Ukrainian army blew up a pontoon bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river in the Luhansk region, according to reports.
Satellite images collected by geospatial intelligence firm BlackSky show that a pontoon bridge – used primarily but not invariably for military purposes – was destroyed on 10 May after Ukrainian artillery struck the bridge and surrounding area.
The images show smoke emanating from the half-sunken bridge with destroyed armoured vehicles lying on the shores of the Siverskyi Donets river, running west to east between Russian rebel-controlled provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian defence ministry shared the same images, saying Ukrainian ground forces, artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade, “have opened the holiday season for ruscists”, referring to Russian soldiers.
“Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun,” it said.
Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said the Russian army created a bridge to transfer military gear and personnel but all pontoons were destroyed along with equipment and troops.
“In Bilohorivka, where the enemy tried to create a solid crossing and transfer equipment and personnel to our side, he was partially successful, but now all pontoon crossings have been destroyed, all equipment has been destroyed and the remaining personnel have either been killed or have fled by swimming across to the other side.”
According to an estimate by Forbes, around 50 vehicles and up to a thousand troops were caught by Ukrainian artillery and were destroyed, effectively taking out an entire battalion, in what would be a major blow to the Russian army.
There were around three dozen tanks and other armoured vehicles lying destroyed along the river after the successful strike by the Ukrainian army, it reported.
The US defence department on Tuesday said that the movement of Russian ground forces in Donbas “is slow and uneven”.
Artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade of the #UAarmy have opened the holiday season for ruscists. Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun. pic.twitter.com/QsRsXmnJ65
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 11, 2022
According to British army intelligence, Russia forces are reportedly likely to redeploy, after replenishing the losses, to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets river.
Meanwhile, as the war drags on, Ukraine has offered the first proposal of its kind to seek negotiations for a prisoner swap. Ukraine has offered the release of Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the severely hurt fighters trapped inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel mill.
Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday that they have considered a number of different options but “none of them is ideal”, as she confirmed that negotiations for a prisoner swap were underway.
Around 2,500 Ukrainian troops, 700 of whom are wounded, are believed to still be holed up in the Azovstal steel plant, much of which has been bombarded to rubble.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.