Ukraine: Russian forces suffered significant losses in a Ukrainian attack that damaged a pontoon bridge they were attempting to cross a river in the east, according to Ukrainian and British officials, in yet another reminder of Moscow’s desperation to salvage a botched war.

Meanwhile, the first war crimes trial in the crisis began on Friday in Ukraine. In the early days of the war, the defendant, a captured Russian soldier, is accused of shooting and killing a 62-year-old civilian.

The trial began as Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, appeared to be devolving into a grinding attrition battle.
Ukraine’s airborne command released photos and video of a damaged Russian pontoon bridge across the Siversky Donets River in Bilohorivka, as well as several destroyed or damaged Russian military vehicles nearby — the Ukrainians claimed to have destroyed at least 73 tanks and other military equipment during a two-day battle earlier this week. According to the command, the men “drowned the Russian occupants.”
Russia lost “major armored maneuver elements” of at least one battalion tactical group, according to the British Defense Ministry. A Russian battalion tactical group has around 1,000 soldiers.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a very risky tactic,” the ministry noted in its daily intelligence update, “and testifies to the pressure Russian commanders are facing to make headway in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”

In other news, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is “not of a positive opinion” toward Finland and, maybe, Sweden joining NATO, casting doubt on their plans. He accused Sweden and other Nordic countries of helping Kurdish insurgents and others whom Turkey deems terrorists.

Erdogan did not explicitly state that he would prevent the two countries from joining NATO. The military alliance, on the other hand, takes decisions by consensus, which means that each of its 30 members has a veto over who can join.

An expansion of NATO would be a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the conflict in response to the alliance’s eastward encroachment, according to him. However, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, other nations on Russia’s flank are concerned that they may be next.

With Ukraine appealing for more guns to fend off the invasion, the EU’s foreign affairs leader revealed plans to provide Kyiv an another 500 million euros ($520 million) to purchase heavy weapons.

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, hailed the heavy weapons arriving on the front lines, but admitted that the fight is far from over.
In a Facebook post, he said, “We are entering a new, long-term phase of the battle.” “We’re in for some extremely trying weeks. How many will there be? No one can be certain.”

The struggle for the Donbas has devolved into a back-and-forth grind with no big breakthroughs and little ground gained on either side. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nighttime speech Friday that no one can tell how long the battle will endure, but that his country’s soldiers have been making gains, including retaking six Ukrainian towns or villages in the last day.
According to Oleh Zhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst, fierce fighting has erupted near the city of Severodonetsk on the Siversky Donets River. According to him, the Ukrainian military has conducted counterattacks but has been unable to stop Russia’s advance.

“The fate of a big chunk of the Ukrainian army — roughly 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers — is being decided,” he said.
According to the Ukrainian military leader for the Donbass region of Luhansk, Russian soldiers fired 31 times on civilian areas the day before, demolishing scores of homes, particularly in the villages of Hirske and Popasnianska. He claimed that Russian troops had practically complete control of Rubizhne, which had a prewar population of roughly 55,000 people.
Ukrainian rebels holed up in a steel mill in the destroyed southern port of Mariupol faced continuous Russian attacks on the city’s last pocket of resistance. Despite shortages of ammunition, food, water, and medication, Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, vowed his forces will hold out “as long as they can.”
Moscow has had to shrink its aims in Ukraine, according to Justin Crump, a former British tank commander who is now a security adviser. He claimed that the Russians had to rely on hurriedly assembled forces that had not been trained together.

“It’s not going to be easy. So we’re set for at least a summer of conflict. “I believe the Russian side understands that this will take a long time,” he said.
Russian Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, could face life in prison if convicted of shooting a Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy area on Feb. 28, four days after the invasion, in the first war crimes case brought to trial.

General Iryna Venediktova, the Ukrainian prosecutor, said she is preparing war crimes charges against 41 Russian forces for attacking civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape, and theft. It’s unclear how many of the suspects are in Ukrainian custody and how many will be tried in their absence.
Hundreds of journalists observed the opening of the wartime proceedings in a small Kyiv courtroom, which will be closely monitored by international observers to ensure that the trial is fair.

The defendant sat in a small glass cage during the hearings, which lasted about 15 minutes and will resume on Wednesday. He was clad in a blue and gray hoodie and gray trousers.

Shyshimarin was questioned about his rights and whether he desired a jury trial, among other things. He turned down the latter.
Victor Ovsyanikov, his Ukraine-based lawyer, has recognized that the proof against Shyshimarin is strong but has not yet stated what the soldier’s defense will be.
Shyshimarin, a member of a tank battalion seized by Ukrainian forces, claimed in a video released by the Ukrainian Security Service that he shot the civilian because he was commanded to do so.

Teachers are attempting to restore some semblance of normalcy after the conflict shut down Ukraine’s schools and upended the lives of millions of youngsters as the war continues.
Lessons are being offered at a metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, that has become a home for many families. Children gathered around a table with their teacher Valeriy Leiko to study about history and art, with their drawings adorning the walls.

“It gives them mental support.” Because there is now a conflict, and many people have lost their homes… “Right now, some people’s parents are arguing,” Leiko explained. “They feel that someone loves them,” he said, in part because of the lessons.

“It’s hard to concentrate when you have to complete your homework with explosions by your window,” Anna Fedoryaka, an older student, admitted after watching a professor’s online lectures on Ukrainian literature.


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