Russian forces up pressure on Ukraine’s eastern front

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Russian forces up pressure on Ukraine’s eastern front

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A Ukrainian infantry soldier of the 23rd Mechanized Brigade waits to head toward the frontline in the Avdiivka direction, in the Donetsk region, on April 3, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. — AFP pic

KRAMATORSK (Ukraine), April 5 — Ukraine warned today that a key frontline town was coming under “constant fire” from advancing Russian troops as Moscow said it had captured another small village.

Russia’s advances on the battlefield came as Ukraine said it had destroyed at least six military planes at a Russian airbase in one of its largest overnight drone attacks in weeks.

Buoyed by their advantage in manpower and arms, Russian forces are on the offensive.

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The Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar in the eastern Donetsk region appears to be their next major target.

“The town has become even more dangerous,” the head of the Chasiv Yar military administration, Sergiy Chaus, told AFP on Friday during an interview in the nearby city of Kramatorsk.

“If before there were moments when you could hear silence in the town, now there is no silence... There is constant fire” he said.

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Both Ukrainian and Russian military bloggers with links to the armed forces said on Friday that Russian troops had reached the outskirts of the town.

Chaus declined to comment on those reports. He said there were around 770 people still living there.

“There is not a single building left intact,” he added.

Chasiv Yar is an important logistics hub for Kyiv’s forces and sits a few kilometres west of Bakhmut, which was flattened by months of artillery fire before it was captured by Russia last May.

Russia has recently secured its first territorial gains since seizing Bakhmut and is now trying to press onwards against Ukrainian units hobbled by delays in the supply of vital Western military aid.

Airbase attacked

Further to the south, Russia’s military claimed today to have captured the small village of Vodiane, on the outskirts of Donetsk city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that his forces had “managed to stabilise our positions” and had halted Russian advances, despite a “shortage of shells and a significant slowdown in supplies”.

With its troops on the defensive, Kyiv has stepped up its aerial attacks on Russian territory, targeting both military sites and energy facilities in an attempt to knock out Russia’s fuel and equipment supplies for its invasion.

Kyiv fired more than 50 drones at Russian territory overnight, Russia’s defence ministry said today, one of its largest attacks in weeks.

A security source in Kyiv told AFP that a drone strike on the Morozovsk air base in Russia’s southern Rostov region had destroyed at least six Russian planes and “another eight were heavily damaged”.

“This is an important special operation that will significantly reduce the combat potential of the Russians,” the source said.

There was no immediate response from Moscow and AFP was unable to verify the claims.

Russia said 44 of the 53 drones Kyiv fired overnight targeted the southern Rostov region, which borders Ukraine and is the location of several military sites, including the command headquarters for the invasion of Ukraine.

Rostov governor Vasily Golubev said today that investigators were injured while inspecting a drone that had been downed near the air base.

“In the Morozovsk district, not far from the airfield, an explosive device in one of the downed drones detonated around noon, injuring eight people according to preliminary data,” he said in a post on Telegram.

He said earlier that the attack inflicted only “insignificant damage” to a power station and blew out windows in an apartment building.

Russia rarely comments on Ukrainian claims of successful strikes.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after air defences downed an alleged Ukrainian drone, in Kursk, Russia, April 4, 2024, in this picture obtained from social media. — Kursk Governor Roman Starovoyt/Telegram pic via Reuters

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after air defences downed an alleged Ukrainian drone, in Kursk, Russia, April 4, 2024, in this picture obtained from social media. — Kursk Governor Roman Starovoyt/Telegram pic via Reuters

‘Completely destroyed’

Both sides also reported shelling and injuries in frontline towns and villages.

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) humanitarian organisation said a 3am Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian-held town of Pokrovsk had “completely destroyed” its office in the town.

In a post on X, MSF said it “condemns this attack on the office, which supports its emergency medical humanitarian assistance”.

Ukrainian police said five civilians were wounded in the strike.

Other Ukrainian drone attacks in the early hours of Friday targeted Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk border regions, as well as Saratov and Krasnodar.

In Saratov, the governor said a drone had targeted Engels, a city around 500 kilometres from the border.

Engels is home to a major Russian air base that has previously been hit.

Ukraine’s air force meanwhile said Russia launched five missiles and 13 drones at its territory overnight.

Kyiv said it downed the 13 drones but did not say anything about the missiles, which targeted the north-eastern Kharkiv region.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that a recent wave of attacks against Ukraine was “retribution” for Kyiv’s attempts to hit its own energy facilities. — AFP

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