Ukraine said on Monday it had stopped the latest attack on an eastern city that has been a major target of Moscow attacks since Russian forces finally captured Mariupol last week.
Russian forces tried to storm Siviarodonetsk, but failed and retreated, according to the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The town on the banks of the Sivarsky Donets River, which flows through eastern Ukraine, has been a major Russian target in recent days as Moscow seeks to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east and completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
In Mariupol, where hundreds of Ukrainian fighters dropped their weapons last week after a nearly three-month siege, Russian mine clearing teams were combing through the rubble of the huge Azovstal steel plant.
A huge armored bulldozer painted with a white letter “Z”, Which has become a symbol of Russian aggression, A small group of soldiers pushed the wreckage to the side as they made their way through the wreckage with metal detectors.
“The work is huge. Enemies planted their own landmines, we also planted anti-personal mines to deter the enemy. So we have about two weeks of work ahead of us, “said Nome de Guerre, a Russian soldier who approached his father.
“During this time, more than a hundred explosives have been destroyed in the last two days. The work continues. ”
An aide to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, currently working outside the entire Russian-controlled city, said the remaining residents were now at risk of disease as sewers overflowed into the rubble. Ukraine believes that thousands of people have died in the city blockade of more than 400,000 people.
“Residents of Mariupol need to evacuate one more because of the growing threat of an epidemic,” Petro Andruschenko wrote in the Telegram. “The consequences of turning Mariupol into a ghetto would be catastrophic. With each thunderstorm, the threat of an epidemic becomes a reality. ”
On Monday morning an air raid siren sounded across Ukraine, sounding daily alarms before the expected attack by Russian forces in the east and south of the country. Three months after Russia’s February 24 aggression, to “dismantle” the country.
‘Erasing the Face of the Earth’
Russia has been concentrating its “special military operations” eastward since the withdrawal of its troops from the area around the capital Kiev and the north of the country in late March.
Since last month, Moscow has said its main effort is to seize all of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, collectively known as Donbass, which Russia claims is in favor of separatists.
Despite the deployment of its forces in these areas and the launch of massive artillery bombardment, it has gained only small territories there, meanwhile losing further Ukrainian counter-attacks further north around Kharkiv.
But last week’s complete takeover of Mariupol gave Russia its biggest victory in months. Its forces now control a largely uninterrupted part of the east and south, freeing more troops to join the main Donbass battle.
In recent days it has launched a series of raids to seize Siviarodonetsk, a city that forms the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-controlled pocket of Donbass and one of the last parts of the Luhansk province still out of its possession.
Sergei Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russia was using burnt earth tactics and was “removing Sieverodonetsk from the face of the earth”. Moscow was trying to advance into the province from three directions, crossing Siviarodonetsk, cutting a highway to its south, and crossing the river further west at Belohorivka.
Despite the recent attacks, some Western military experts say Russia could soon lose its combat capability to launch an offensive in eastern Ukraine and move next week to defend the territory it has occupied so far. Western weapons are pouring into Ukraine, giving Kiev more power to counter-attack in the future.
“As their previous attacks lose momentum, the Russians will inevitably have to adapt to Ukraine’s defensive tactics. And in doing so, the Russian military will face a whole new set of challenges ahead, “wrote Mick Ryan, a retired Australian major general and defense analyst.
“The Ukrainian army will be able to determine where and when to engage with the Russians.”
Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement that Russia had suffered three-month losses in Ukraine in the 1980s, the same as in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
“The combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, lack of flexibility, and a command approach designed to reinforce failures and repeat errors has led to this high casualty rate, which is steadily increasing in Donbass attacks,” it said.