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Long-range strikes, drone warfare and border escalation: Key events of the week in Russia-Ukraine conflict (VIDEOS)

Ukrainian forces launched a large-scale but unsuccessful attack on Russia’s border regions in attempt to create incursion breach

The past week in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been marked by a major escalation at border areas between the two countries, as Kiev’s forces staged multiple attempts to breach into the Kursk and Belgorod regions. The attacks came ahead of the 2024 Russian presidential election, which kicked off on Friday.

Active combat also continued to rage to the northwest of Donetsk near the villages Orlovka, Tonenkoye and Berdychi, where the Russian military continues its push following the liberation of the town of Avdeevka last month. The Ukrainian military has been actively pouring reserves into the area in an apparent effort to stabilize the frontline, staging multiple counterattacks daily.

Russian forces continue advancing in Donbass

According to Russian military estimates, Kiev’s forces have been losing some 400 soldiers on average in the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi area daily, as well as multiple pieces of military hardware. On Monday, Moscow claimed the destruction of a fourth US-supplied M1 Abrams tank in the area, though no footage to corroborate the kill has emerged.


On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the liberation of Nevelskoe, a small settlement located some 20 kilometers west of Donetsk. It sits around 3.5 kilometers south of the village of Pervomayskoye, an important stronghold for Ukrainian forces, which provides cover for the southern flank of the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line. Pervomayskoye, stretching along a system of ponds, canals and dams, has seen active combat for weeks already, with Russian forces reported to partially control its eastern outskirts.

Multiple incursions into Russia’s border regions thwarted

Starting from Tuesday, Ukrainian forces staged attempts to breach the Russian border, attacking multiple locations along its frontier with Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions.

These attacks have been attributed by Kiev to the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and to the Russian Freedom Legion, paramilitary units created early in the conflict and attached to the country’s military intelligence agency, the GUR. The units, which portray themselves as collaborator forces composed of Russian defectors, as well as fugitive neo-Nazis, are designated by Moscow as terrorist organizations.


READ MORE: ‘Neo-Nazi Kiev regime’ tried to disrupt Russian elections – Putin

The Russian military has released multiple videos showing unsuccessful Ukrainian attempts to breach through the border. A drone video captured on Tuesday at a Russian border checkpoint near the village of Nehkoteevka, Belgorod Region, shows a Ukrainian T-64 tank hitting a landmine, with its crew abandoning the vehicle. The tank was subsequently destroyed by a drone, which dropped a hand grenade into its hatch.

Another video shows multiple damaged and destroyed Ukrainian armored engineering vehicles, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles near the border village of Sporadyushino, also in Belgorod Region. One of the abandoned tanks appears to be a modernized T-80, which had apparently been previously captured by Ukraine from Russian forces.

Disturbing drone footage from the same location, released by the Russian military on Thursday, shows the battlefield littered with dead and wounded Ukrainian troops. The unit was reportedly hit by a Russian TOS system. While officially designated as a “heavy flamethrower” in Russia, the system is effectively a multiple rocket launcher, which uses devastating thermobaric munitions.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian forces attempted a helicopter assault near the village of Kozinki in Belgorod Region. A group of some 30 soldiers disembarked from two Mi8 helicopters, which flew across the border at a low altitude, the Russian military has said. The unit, however, ended up blocked by Russian troops and forced back into Ukrainian territory, ending up trapped in a minefield. An evacuation group which attempted to help it ended up sustaining heavy casualties as well, with the tally of the botched operation reaching up to 50 service personnel.

Thus far, the attacks failed to yield any tangible result, with the Ukrainian forces sustaining heavy casualties in the effort. According to the latest estimates by the Russian Defense Ministry, Kiev lost some 1,500 troops, including up to 500 killed, as well as 18 tanks and 23 other armored vehicles during the border-region attacks.

Ukraine ramps up kamikaze drone attacks

The effort to breach through the Russian border have been preceded and coupled with a sharp uptick in suicide-drone attacks launched by Ukrainian troops. Multiple attacks were reported by the Russian military on a daily basis, with a majority of drones ending up shot down and failing to reach their designated targets.


READ MORE: Mass drone swarm intercepted over Russia – MOD

A major drone swarm of at least 47 fixed-wing UAVs was intercepted on Saturday night, with the majority of them –41 aircraft– shot down over Rostov Region. The drones’ primary target was reportedly the city of Taganrog, with a local aircraft plant, known to be servicing Russian flying radar planes, presumed to have been the prime target. A handful of drones – or debris of the shot-down ones – seemingly made it through, inflicting minor damage to the plant’s structures, satellite imagery circulating online suggests.


Two other major drone attacks were repelled on Tuesday and Wednesday, with more than 25 and 58 UAVs shot down over the two days respectively. Some of the drones made it deep into Russia, with several downed near Moscow and St Petersburg. The two waves of UAVs appeared to be targeting primarily oil refineries and fuel depots, with the local authorities of Orel and Nizhny Novgorod regions each reporting fires at a single such facility.

Moscow increases long-range strikes

The Russian military has apparently ramped up long-range attacks on the Ukrainian deep rear, striking multiple staging points far away from the frontline. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed destruction of an S-300 air defense system deployed near the Ukrainian-controlled town of Pokrovsk, in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The town is located some 67 kilometers north-west of the Russian region’s capital, Donetsk. The system was hit by at least one Iskander ballistic missile, which triggered secondary detonation of anti-aircraft missiles, with multiple launchers and support vehicles neutralized.

While the Russian military identified the system as a Soviet-made S-300, multiple Ukrainian sources and independent military observers suggested the destroyed vehicles actually belonged to a US-made Patriot system. Footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry appears to corroborate this theory, with two of the destroyed vehicles resembling German-made MAN KAT1 8×8 trucks, commonly used as a platform for Patriot launchers. The Russian military claimed to have struck another Patriot launcher, in Ukraine’s Kharkov region on Wednesday.


READ MORE: WATCH Russian military destroy Ukrainian helicopters (VIDEO)

The Russian military reported another long-range attack on that day, releasing drone footage of a strike on a temporary airfield located near the DPR village of Novopavlovka, some 46 kilometers from the front line. Three Ukrainian Mi-8/17 military-transport helicopters were detected during a re-supply stop, with the location getting hit by an unspecified cluster munition.

The attack left two of the helicopters damaged and unable to fly, with the aircraft subsequently destroyed by direct hits of unknown high-precision projectiles. While the surviving helicopter appeared to be an older Soviet-made Mi-8MT aircraft, at least one of the destroyed ones was apparently a Russian-made Mi-17V-5, supplied by Moscow to the now-defunct US-propped Afghan army in the early 2010s. A number of the surviving aircraft of the type ended up transferred to Ukraine by the Pentagon mid-2022.

March 16, 2024 at 04:46PM
RT

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