An unsuccessful attempt to force the Seversky Donets River in Belogorovka in early May cost the lives of at least 400 Russian soldiers and became one of the deadliest episodes of this war for the Russian army.
Source: The New York Times
Details: An NYT correspondent visited the scene and saw a picture of the pogrom on the river bank: blown up tanks, fragments of pontoon bridges, piles of branches cut off by explosions and the bodies of Russian soldiers, some of them half buried in the mud.
In the forest, “pieces of torn Russian military uniforms hang from the trees,” in some places there is “an unbearable smell of decaying corpses,” the journalist noted. Only in one place did he see 15 incinerated armored personnel carriers.
Literally: “The unsuccessful crossing, which took place in this place for several days in early May, became for the Russian army one of the deadliest battles of the war.
Its forces attempted to encircle Ukrainian soldiers in the nearby city of Severodonetsk, but instead found themselves surrounded by the river and the Ukrainian front line. At least 400 Russian soldiers died, mostly from artillery shelling.”
Details: “The New York Times” notes that the maneuvering of the troops has largely become an attempt to lure into a trap.
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Having failed to capture major cities such as Kyiv or cut off the entire Black Sea coast, the Russian military has attempted a major encirclement of Ukrainian forces in the east. This effort seems difficult now that Ukraine has blocked one of the main offensive routes near the town of Izyum.
The immediate goal of the Russian forces was the encirclement of Severodonetsk – the easternmost city of Donbass among those that remain under the control of Ukraine.
The Russians focused on fighting on a narrow 75-kilometer front in the Donbass. They seek to advance from both the north and the south to cut off Ukraine’s only remaining supply line to the city of Severodonetsk.
Ukrainian colonel Dmitry Kashenko, who commanded the counterattack on the pontoon bridge, said: “The Russians wanted a small victory. They tried in Kyiv, they tried in Kharkov – they lost. They tried to win at least something (in the Lugansk region – ed.) “..
The Seversky Donets River forms a natural barrier to the advance of the Russians.
According to Colonel Kashenko, there are few suitable places for a pontoon crossing. He was sent to one of the crossings on May 8, after the Russians deployed the pontoons and transferred the soldiers to the forest on the near bank. According to him, the Ukrainian infantry advanced into the area the next day, but were repulsed and suffered losses.
The Ukrainians then set up a line of defense to encircle the Russians as they crossed the pontoon bridge and unleashed artillery fire on the area. They also planted floating mines upstream, allowing the current to carry them to the Russians’ pontoons. Ukrainian forces blew up four separate bridges at the crossing site.
According to Kashenko, the Russians hastily laid new pontoons and ferried armored vehicles, but failed to break through the Ukrainian line of defense.
Dozens of armored vehicles and infantry were trapped and torn to pieces by Ukrainian artillery. The Ukrainians also hit Russian troops involved in the bridge work on the far bank.
According to Kashenko, some of the first volleys of recently arrived American M777 howitzers were fired during the shelling.
The colonel said that he offered to surrender to the enemy forces, shouting into the loudspeaker: “Russians, surrender!” But he doesn’t know if they heard it.
According to the Ukrainians, some Russian soldiers managed to swim across the river.
Among the belongings of Russian soldiers, Ukrainians found a certificate for the medal of the colonel of the Russian Federation for participation in the war – an award “for military merit.”
According to the NYT, the Ukrainian military blew up bridges across the Seversky Donets, and pontoon crossings did not help the Russians cross the river.
Recall: Russian troops installed pontoon crossings and tried to cross the Seversky Donets in Belogorovka, but were unsuccessful, but repeated their attempts several times.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that when trying to cross the Seversky Donets on May 11, the Russian army lost 485 servicemen of the 74th motorized rifle brigade out of 550 and more than 80 pieces of Russian equipment were damaged.
ISW believes that Russian troops made significant tactical errors when attempting a large-scale crossing of the Seversky Donets River from Kremennaya.
On Saturday, May 21, the Russian military prepared to resume offensive operations in the direction of Yampol-Seversk with the crossing of the Seversky Donets River.