Russia Intensifies Attacks in Multiple Eastern Ukrainian Areas, Ukraine Responds With Long-Range Strikes

Russia Intensifies Attacks in Multiple Eastern Ukrainian Areas, Ukraine Responds With Long-Range Strikes
A view shows heavily damaged buildings in the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 23, 2023. (Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Reuters)

Russian forces claimed to have taken new ground in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Monday, while Ukrainian forces claimed some successes degrading Russian weapons systems with long-range strikes in recent days.

Russia’s 98th Airborne Division reported intensifying fighting in Chasiv Yar on Monday, marking progress in their goal to capture the city, which serves as a relative high ground in the Donetsk region about 12 miles west of Bakhmut. Russian forces have been fighting near Chasiv Yar since April.

On Telegram, Russia’s 98th Airborne Division claimed artillery and drone strikes on fortified Ukrainian positions in the city, and advances in the city’s eastern suburbs, which are split off from the main part of the city by a canal. The Russian military unit said Ukrainian forces were doing “everything possible” to prevent them from crossing the canal and capturing positions on the other side of the waterway.

On Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported advances in other areas of the Donestk region, including towns and villages as far as 20 miles west of Avdiivka, which Russian forces captured in February after months of fighting.

The Russian military also reported intensifying fighting with Ukrainian forces in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

While specific battlefield gains cannot be independently verified at this time, the Ukrainian military also reported intensified fighting in several of the villages in the Donetsk region where Russian forces have focused their attacks.

These advances could divide the attention of Ukrainian forces, as Russian troops intensify attacks on Ukraine’s northeast Kharkiv border region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address on Sunday, made no mention of Chasiv Yar, but said the area around the town of Pokrovsk, to the southwest, remained the most difficult sector for Ukrainian forces to hold.

“This is the toughest area along the entire front line, the one where pressure from the occupiers is the greatest,” he said. “Every day this is the site of the highest number of engagements. Only yesterday, there were more than 40 assaults and as of this hour today, there have been more than 20.”

Ukraine Claims New Long-Range Strikes

While Ukrainian ground forces have attempted to hold their positions and slow the Russian advances along the front, other Ukrainian forces have sought to undermine the Russian advances with long-range strikes targeting Russian fire-support, ammunition depots, and rallying points for ground assaults.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed successful strikes throughout the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula, hitting one of Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in the northern Crimean town of Dzhankoi, and two more of Russia’s less-advanced S-300 missile launchers in the western Crimean coastal towns of Yevpatoriya and Chornomorske.

Russia has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles on southern Ukraine from the Crimea peninsula, which Russian forces seized in 2014. Ukrainian forces may need to first degrade Russia’s air defenses around Crimea in order to target these long-range missile systems firing into Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate also claimed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces used an unspecified weapon to strike at an advanced Russian Su-57 fighter jet as it sat at an airfield near the Russian city of Astrakhan. The airbase they claimed to have attacked is located around 280 miles east of the Russia–Ukraine border.

The long-range attacks inside Russian-held territory come as President Joe Biden and leaders of other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member nations have recently begun to encourage Ukraine to strike inside Russia’s borders to damage and destroy weapons Russian forces and weapons systems supporting Russia’s Kharkiv offensive.

In an interview last week, President Biden insisted there are some limits to how Ukrainian forces can use U.S.-donated weapons to strike inside Russia.

“They’re authorized to be used in proximity to the border when they’re being used on the other side of the border to attack specific targets in Ukraine,” President Biden told ABC News. “We’re not authorizing strikes 200 miles into Russia and we’re not authorizing strikes on Moscow, on the Kremlin.”

Reuters contributed to this article.

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