Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging heavy artillery fire

Moscow, Russia - Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged heavy artillery fire on Saturday, according to military reports on both sides, with Kyiv stating that its forces had destroyed Russian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Heavy artillery fire was reportedly been exchanged between Ukrainian and Russian forces on Saturday.
Heavy artillery fire was reportedly been exchanged between Ukrainian and Russian forces on Saturday.  © Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said that "Ukrainian attacks" had been repelled in the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson regions after Ukraine repeatedly vowed to take back the areas occupied by Russian troops.

The military reports, which could not be independently verified, once again spoke of hundreds of dead on each side.

In the Kherson region, annexed by Moscow, the authorities reported the heaviest artillery fire in days. The Ukrainian leadership wants to completely liberate the region in the south of the country, following initial successes.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the evacuation of civilians from Kherson was necessary due to the heavy fighting.

Tens of thousands of people had already fled to Russian-occupied territory, according to the occupying authorities. However, Ukraine charges that Russia has "abducted" local people.

In the contested parts of the region, 170,000 people are still said to be holding out, unable or unwilling to leave.

According to unverifiable information from the Russian Defense Ministry, around 5,000 people continue being brought to safety each day across the Dnipro river in boats and via a pontoon bridge.

Russia said to be struggling with training new recruits

Russia's attack on Ukraine is going on its ninth month.
Russia's attack on Ukraine is going on its ninth month.  © Yevhen TITOV / AFP

In London, meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense said the Russian military was likely struggling to train its new recruits, including its regular annual conscripts, in its latest intelligence update on Saturday.

"Russia is probably struggling to provide military training for its current mobilization drive and its annual autumn conscription intake," the ministry wrote on Twitter.

Russia's armed forces were already "stretched" by the need to train the roughly 300,000 troops summoned in the partial mobilization drive announced on September 21, the ministry said.

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Joke of the Day Joke of the Day for May 18, 2024: Get your funny on for Caturday

"These issues will be compounded by the additional regular autumn annual conscription cycle ... which is usually expected to bring in an additional 120,000 personnel," it said, noting that new conscripts "likely have minimal training or no training at all."

Moscow's partial mobilization drive officially ended last month.

But the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank, said it could continue covertly, pointing out that Putin had not yet signed an order formally ending the mobilization.

He "is likely setting conditions to continue covert mobilization, which suggests that partial mobilization did not generate sufficient forces for Putin's maximalist goals in Ukraine," the ISW wrote on Friday.

It further pointed to two legislative amendments signed by Putin on Friday, allowing volunteer battalions to be formed and stating that convicted criminals can be drafted into the army.

Ukraine continues to fight back against Russian attacks

In the last eight months, Russia has inflicted severe devastation in Ukraine and declared the occupied southern and eastern parts of Ukraine as Russian territory.

Ukraine is fighting back, aided by foreign support, with its army making significant gains in recent weeks. This has put significant pressure on Russian forces.

The British intelligence briefing noted that experienced Russian officers and trainers had been deployed to fight in Ukraine, where some had likely been killed. Furthermore, troops with insufficient training provided little additional combat capability.

"Russian forces are conducting training in Belarus due to a shortage of training staff, munitions, and facilities in Russia," the ministry noted.

Britain has published regular intelligence updates since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. Moscow disregards them as propaganda.

Cover photo: fk

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