Russian onslaught targets more Ukrainian towns and villages

29 February 2024, 18:04

Russia Ukraine War
Russia Ukraine War. Picture: PA

Russian forces have been deploying overwhelming amounts of artillery and troop numbers in an effort to punch through defensive lines.

Russian forces are pushing hard against more Ukrainian towns and villages in eastern and south-eastern Ukraine as Moscow tries to press its advantage in weapons and troops, officials in Kyiv have said.

Despite Russia’s apparent momentum on the ground, Ukraine said it has shot down 13 Russian warplanes this month, including three on Thursday, as the Kremlin’s forces push forward.

With the full-scale war now into its third year, Russian forces have been bludgeoning some Ukrainian defensive positions into submission, deploying overwhelming amounts of artillery and troop numbers in an effort to punch through defensive lines at targeted points.

Though Russia’s gains have been small, slow and costly, Ukraine does not have enough reservists and has a severe shortage of artillery shells as the supply of military aid from western partners has waned.

Russia Ukraine War
Volodymyr Zelensky talks to Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The Russian army is trying to seize the towns and villages of Tonenke, Orlivka, Semenivka, Berdychi and Krasnohorivka in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s army chief, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on social media.

Those are places where Ukrainian military officials had said they would form a new line of defence after Ukrainian troops pulled out of Avdiivka on February 17.

In the south-eastern Zaporizhzhia region, Russian forces are focusing on retaking Verbove and Robotyne, towns that Ukraine won back in last summer’s counter-offensive, Col Gen Syrskyi said.

The general, who was appointed by President Volodymyr Zelensky to lead the country’s military on February 8, accused some of his commanders of making “miscalculations” in assessing the enemy and taking counter-measures.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said its forces had shot down three Russian Su-34 jets overnight.

That made a total of 11 warplanes, including an early warning and control A-50, that Ukraine claims to have downed since February 17, and 13 throughout the month — the highest monthly tally since October 2022.

“The enemy has increased its air presence in the east. Our top military leadership reacted accordingly,” air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on national television.

A major question for Kyiv officials is how they can unlock further military help from their partners. Emergency US national security funds for Ukraine are still on hold amid a political dispute in Washington.

Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk addressed an open letter to US House of Representatives speaker Mike Johnson, asking him to put to a vote the Biden administration’s proposal to send 60 billion dollars (£47 billion) of aid to Ukraine.

The letter posted by Mr Stefanchuk was also signed by 23 speakers and heads of parliament in European countries.

Eight Ukrainian civilians, including a six-year-old girl, were killed and at least 12 people were wounded in the south east over the previous 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office said on Thursday.

By Press Association

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