The Russians in Donbas are at their military antics once again. Satellite images of an entire Russian armored column composed of tanks and armored vehicles were reportedly destroyed as they were trying to cross a river in Donbas. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry identified the river to be the Siverskyi Donets River, near the town of Bilohorivka.

The Siverskyi Donets River is a river that flows through Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk in Ukraine, then on towards the Rostov Oblast in Russia. It is an important source of fresh water in Ukraine, specifically for those living in the East.

We saw some of these photos and tried to make sense of what happened. Our hypothesis is that the Russian forces, specifically the 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade, were trying to cross the river to get to resupply sites further east in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, where they may very well have repair and supply sites. They decided to cross the river to save time, and everybody knows you’re going to need pontoon bridges to do so. But erecting and setting these bridges up takes a certain amount of time to do so.

Russian armored column destroyed while crossing the Siverskyi Donets River (Rob Lee). Source:
Russian armored column destroyed while crossing the Siverskyi Donets River (Rob Lee/Twitter)

While they were doing this, the Ukrainian forces, possibly through their drones, spotted the Russians erecting the bridges and patiently waited for them to finish. We say this because these satellite photos reveal that some tanks had already crossed the river. Of course, when the tanks and armored vehicles were crossing, the Ukrainian forces waited for the first few to cross, then blew those units up to block them on the bridge.

We’re not entirely sure if the tail end of the column was bombed first prior to the bridge to block them off, but it may very well be the case. So far Ukraine has been very adept at ambushing Russian armored columns and sound doctrine would have you disabling the front and rear vehicles immediately, to stop the column from either advancing or retreating.

The bridge was then hit with artillery as Russian tanks and vehicles attempted to rush across. It may also be the case that Ukrainian ground troops, as well as their own tanks, had also encircled them, but we have no confirmation of this as of writing. This is also very smart tactically.  By sinking tanks and vehicles in the river, it creates obstructions underwater that would make the construction of another pontoon bridge later on much more difficult for the Russian engineering units.

The rest of the column was either destroyed or abandoned as the troops operating these vehicles scattered into the woods during the artillery bombardment that followed.

“Bilohorivka is now an outpost of Luhansk oblast where Ruscists keep trying to cross the river but end up feeding the fish,” Ukrainian military official Serhiy Haidai said to a local media outlet.