Ukraine war: Russia has ‘new ground forces’ as shelling kills 13 in Dnipro

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A Russian soldier at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southeastern Ukraine (AP)
A Russian soldier at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southeastern Ukraine (AP)

Russia has created a “major” new ground forces corps in an attempt to strengthen its offensive in eastern Ukraine, according to British military intelligence.

In its latest update on the Ukraine war, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that the Kremlin has formed the 3rd Army Corps (3AC) in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, east of Moscow.

“Volunteer” battalions will likely form the bulk of its size, the MoD said.

Although potential soldiers are said to have been offered significant cash bonuses, it is thought that the Putin regime will struggle to meet its recruitment targets.

“A Russian army corps typically consists of 15-20,000 troops, but it will probably be difficult for Russia to bring 3 AC up to this strength, given very limited levels of popular enthusiasm for volunteering for combat in Ukraine,” the MoD said.

The department added that the new military formation is “unlikely to be decisive” in Russia’s campaign to annex Ukraine’s Donbas region, which has reportedly slowed due to a shortage of troops.

Russia has been hampered by significant military losses, with the US estimating that around 80,000 of the Kremlin’s soldiers have been killed or wounded since it invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

Moscow’s commanders are also being stretched by a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south, where Kyiv hopes to recapture the city of Kherson.

Elsewhere, at least 13 people were killed by overnight Russian shelling in Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region, its governor said.

Valentyn Reznichenko said the attacks damaged more than 20 buildings in Marganets, a city near the Dnipro river, and cut off electricity to thousands of homes.

The shelling came shortly after a series of explosions hit Crimea, a peninsula Russia took from Ukraine in 2014. Plumes of smoke erupted on Tuesday afternoon above the Saky military base in Novofedorivka, which is located more than 100 miles from the frontline.

Kyiv denied responsibility for the incident, saying the explosions, which killed one person and injured a further eight, could have been caused by saboteurs.

“People who are living under occupation understand that the occupation is coming to an end,” Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s aides, said.

Mr Zelensky said Crimea would return to Ukraine in the future. “We will never give it up…the Black Sea region cannot be safe while Crimea is occupied,” he said.

“This Russian war against Ukraine and against the entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation.”