Putin army hit by 'loss' of 12 tanks and 8 infantry vehicles as major assault fails in Ukraine's east

Putin army hit by 'loss' of 12 tanks and 8 infantry vehicles as major assault fails in Ukraine's east

Vladimir Putin’s army reportedly lost 12 tanks and eight infantry fighting vehicles in a major attack on the Ukrainian frontline, say military experts.

The Institute for The Study of War stressed that Russian military chiefs had unleashed a battalion-sized mechanized assault near Avdiivka, in the eastern Donetsk province.

The Washington-based think tank emphasised that the size of the force showed it was a “priority effort” by Russia’s army.

But Putin’s troops were said to have suffered heavy losses and only made a limited advance.

“Ukrainian forces appear to have repelled a Russian battalion-sized mechanized assault near Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast (province), on March 30 — the first battalion-sized mechanized assault since Russian forces began the campaign to seize Avdiivka in late October 2023,” said the ISW.

Russian forces, including parts of the Russian 6th Tank Regiment (The 90th Tank Division), were reported to have committed 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to the large-mechanized assault near the village of Tonenke.

“Geolocated imagery published on March 31 shows a large number of destroyed and damaged Russian armoured vehicles and tanks along a road northwest of Tonenke (west of Avdiivka),” the ISW added.

Ukrainian forces destroyed 12 Russian tanks and eight IFVs, according to one Ukranian soldier, who also stressed that the frontal assault failed to break through the frontline line defences.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

But the ISW added: “Geolocated imagery published on March 31 indicates that Russian forces recently marginally advanced northwest of Tonenke (west of Avdiivka) in a mechanized assault that Ukrainian forces defeated.

“This appears to be the first report of any elements of the 90th Tank Division participating in assaults following the Russian seizure of Avdiivka.

“The scale of the Russian mechanized assault on March 30 is significant, and the Russian military command’s willingness to commit a battalion’s worth of tanks to an attack near Avdiivka indicates that this assault was a priority effort.”

Ukrainian forces are suffering munitions shortages, partly due to a huge aid package from the US being blocked by Republicans.

However, the ISW stressed that the defeat of the Russian advance on Tonenke is a “positive indicator for Ukraine’s ability to defend against future large-scale Russian assaults and the expected summer 2024 Russian offensive operation”.

Russia has used five of its new hypersonic Zircon missiles to attack Kyiv since the start of the year, the city’s military administration said on Monday.

The attacks are among more than 180 Russian missile and drone attacks launched against the Ukrainian capital in the first three months of the year, the administration said.

The sea-based Zircon missiles have a range of 625 miles and travel at nine times the speed of sound, Russia says.

Military analysts have said the missiles’ hypersonic speed could mean greatly reduced reaction time for air defences and a capability to attack large, deep and hardened targets.

Putin confirmed in his annual state-of-the-nation address on February 29 that Russia had used Zircon missiles in battle, without saying what sites had been targeted. He has described the Zircon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.

The Kyiv administration said the city had also been struck since the start of 2024 by six other types of missiles, including the Kh-101, an air-launched cruise missile of which 113 had so far been fired.

Russia also fired 11 Kinzhal missiles, another hypersonic weapon which travels at several times the speed of sound, at the Ukrainian capital this year, it said.

Russia has escalated its long-range bombardment of power and gas infrastructure across Ukraine, causing significant damage and blackouts in several large cities.

It has also sought to hit political, military and manufacturing targets in Kyiv throughout the two years of its full-scale war against Ukraine

Recent Russian attacks have caused significant damage to the Ukrainian power system, but a total collapse is unlikely, the head of Ukraine’s national grid company Ukrenergo Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said on Monday.

Since March 22, the Russian forces have been attacking Ukrainian thermal and hydropower stations as well as main networks on an almost daily basis, which has led to blackouts in many regions of the country.

“Their (the Russians’) goal is to impose blackouts in some major Ukrainian cities, and our goal is to prevent it,” Mr Kudrytskyi said.

The county’s largest private energy company, DTEK, has said the attacks damaged five of its six power plants, which lost 80 per cent of their capacity.

DTEK, which meets about a quarter of the country’s needs, has seen its thermal power stations and other facilities repeatedly hit by Russian missiles, drones and artillery in more than two years of war.

The missile attacks have also significantly damaged the largest Ukrainian hydropower station in Zaporizhzhia, as well as the Kaniv and Dnister stations.