Progress of Ukrainian forces slowed by weather and Russian resistance | War in Ukraine
A cloud of black smoke is seen over the Oskil, the river that separates the western bank (controlled by Kyiv) from the eastern bank (controlled by Moscow) in the Kharkiv region, as refugees cross the bridge.
The lightning reconquest by Ukrainian forces of territories occupied by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region (northeast) encountered very difficult conditions on Saturday in Kupiansk , due to severe weather and resistance from Russian troops.
On the front of the city of Kupyansk, in the incessant din of the bombardments, a column of black smoke rises above the Oskil, the river which separates the western bank controlled by the Ukrainian forces, from the east bank, disputed with Russian forces.
For now, the rain makes it difficult to use heavy weapons everywhere. We can only go on paved roads, Ukrainian forces sergeant Roman Malyna tells AFP as armored personnel carriers and tanks maneuver through a torrential downpour.
“As it is difficult to advance due to the weather, we target their armored vehicles, ammunition depots and groups of soldiers.
—Roman Malyna, Sergeant of the Ukrainian Forces
Kupyansk military administrator Andriy Kanachevych told AFP on Friday that ;It might take Ukrainian forces ten days to secure the area.
Ukrainian Forces Sergeant Roman Malyna.
Ukrainian artillery was targeting Russian positions in the woods beyond the east of the city, but a Russian drone was causing concern and grabbed attention.
A stream of refugees who had fled the bombed city advanced over a bridge whose railings were still painted in the red, white and blue colors of the Russians occupying Kupyansk.
Two Ukrainian soldiers, well equipped – American assault rifle and body armor – and keeping good spirits despite fatigue and the Russian drone flying over the debris-strewn road, were also crossing the river.
One of them, who uses the nom de guerre Mario, believes that it is too early to know when the eastern bank will come under the full control of Ukrainian forces, all declaring certain that the forces retreat.
“Only their bodies will remain behind.
— “Mario”, a Ukrainian soldier
In general, everything is fine, taking into account the scale of the operation, we have almost no casualties, he told AFP.
Two Ukrainian soldiers are worried about a Russian drone flying over the road littered with debris.< /p>Start of widget. Skip widget? End of widget . Back to top of widget?
Most of Kupyansk, a crucial rail hub previously used by Russia to supply its forces deployed further south on the Donetsk frontline, fell to Ukrainian forces in September during a counter -spectacular offensive.
But a narrow strip in the Kharkiv region on the eastern bank of the Oskil River remains in the hands of Russian forces, which prevents the Ukrainians from advance to the Lugansk region, controlled by Russia which is worth annexing.
Heavy rains caused the Ukrainian armed forces to change the trajectory of armored vehicles from transport of troops and tanks.
Yes, we have enough men and armaments, but it depends on what will happen on the ground. other shore, according to Sergeant Malyna.
They try to find the weak points in our line of defense. So they try to attack from time to time using armor and infantry, he says of the tactics used by Russian forces.
Our morale is good. We are ready to fight, but we need more heavy weapons and precision weapons, the sergeant adds, reiterating Ukraine's appeal to Western countries.
Civilians band together to share a food aid box and charge their electronic devices.
Many civilians have fled a city without electricity and running water, but some have nowhere to go and are dependent on food aid.
Civilians gather around cell phone sockets in the entrances of five-story buildings, charging tablets and torches.
Most say they are happy that Ukrainian forces are returning to liberate the city from Russian occupation, while confessing that the ongoing fighting is devastating.
Lyoudmila Beloukha, 74, was a Soviet-era trapeze artist at the Moscow Circus. I traveled all over the Soviet Union and also abroad, she recalls.
This widow lives alone in a housing estate in Kupyansk. Her sister has gone to Greece and she has had no news of her nephew, who lives on the east bank of the river, for months.
I am alone at home, with my cats. Absolutely alone. My kitchen and the balcony windows are destroyed. I have to fix them with plastic wrappings because it will be cold. I'm freezing, she explains.
Ms Beloukha has received a small amount of food aid distributed by volunteers and is not hungry, but we have no water, no electricity. Nothing. Not even boiling water for tea.
The United States promises to impose new sanctions if the Russia is moving forward with its plan to annex Ukrainian territories. A threat brandished, while the referendums have started in the 4 regions, which Moscow wants to attach to its territory. A vote described as a sham by the West, which will end on Tuesday. In the sectors of Donbass, still controlled by Ukraine, Russia's plans are causing concern. Our special correspondent Marie-Ève Bédard went to a village near the front, which citizens are trying to flee before it is annexed.