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Ukraine loses 16 US-made armored vehicles, group says, but Kyiv’s forces still gain territory

<i>Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images/File</i><br/>
Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images/File

By Brad Lendon, Andrew Carey, Kostan Nechyporenko, Uliana Pavlova and Maria Kostenko, CNN

(CNN) — Ukraine has lost 16 US-supplied armored vehicles in the past several days, according to open-source intelligence analysis, as the country’s military announced its forces had captured three villages from Russia in an offensive in the eastern Donetsk region.

The 16 US Bradley infantry fighting vehicles either destroyed or damaged and abandoned in recent days represent almost 15% of the 109 that Washington has given Kyiv, according to Jakub Janovsky of the Dutch open-source intelligence website Oryx, which has been collecting visual evidence of military equipment losses in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, 2022.

The Bradley fighting vehicle, which moves on tracks rather than wheels, can hold around 10 troops and is used to transport personnel into battle while providing supporting fire.

When the first batch of more than 60 Bradleys were sent to Ukraine at the end of January, US Army Lt. Col. Rebecca D’Angelo, commander of the Army’s 841st Transportation Battalion, said the armored vehicles would be important to Kyiv’s offensive operations.

“This is going to hopefully enhance their capabilities to provide forward advancement in the battlefield and regain lost ground, by having equipment that matches or exceeds what the Russians have,” D’Angelo said in a US Army report.

But when Washington announced in January it would supply to Bradleys to Ukraine, CNN military analyst James “Spider” Marks, a retired general, said the Bradleys would need the right mix of other abilities, including air support, long-range artillery and incisive intelligence.

“A single piece of equipment like the Bradleys is wonderful, but it needs to be used in conjunction with all those other enablers,” he said at the time.

Air support is one area where Ukraine’s military is lacking, although Kyiv’s forces are expected to get F-16 multirole fighter jets from Western allies in the future.

Despite the loss of the Bradleys, analysts said it doesn’t necessarily portend problems for Ukraine’s effort to push back Russian invaders.

“Given the size of the front, and intensity of fighting I would expect such losses,” said Nicholas Drummond, a defense industry analyst specializing in land warfare and a former British Army officer.

Ukraine “is attacking across four main lines of advance in order to force Russia to commit its reserves. A necessary but costly approach,” Drummond said.

But he also echoed Marks’ comments from January.

“I’d like to see the use of armor accompanied by more artillery fire and combat aircraft. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs,” Drummond said.

Drummond and others also pointed out a positive sign for Ukraine in its losses of Western armored vehicles.

“We are not seeing catastrophic damage. This suggests that the vehicles are doing their job and the crews are escaping,” he said.

And Janovsky, from Oryx, said the Bradleys might not be lost for good.

“Most of those vehicles are just damaged and abandoned, so it might be possible to recover and repair them if Ukraine takes the area,” he said.

The Bradleys are among almost 3,600 pieces of military equipment Ukraine has lost in the war, according to Oryx. Meanwhile, the website says it has documented the loss of more than 10,600 pieces of Russian military equipment.

In a statement in Monday, Moscow claimed it had destroyed multiple Ukrainian armored vehicles in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“Enemy armored forces are currently launching more and more attacks in the [Zaporizhzhia] direction. However, Russian anti-tank troops stand in their way, cold-bloodedly turning Western armored vehicles into scrap heaps,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The statement did not say what kind of vehicles were destroyed.

Villages retaken

Despite the loss of the Bradleys, Ukraine reports it has taken back at least three villages from Russian forces in fighting over the weekend.

Ukraine’s advance south from the front-line town of Velyka Novosilke in the Donetsk region now stretches somewhere between 5 and 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles), according to information released by Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar.

Writing on Telegram Sunday evening, Maliar said the village of Makrivka had been recaptured from Russian control – the third in a string of settlements that sit along the Mokri Yaly River to be declared liberated by Ukrainian forces over the course of the day.

Earlier, videos emerged showing soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag from buildings in Neskuchne and Blahodatne.

CNN military analyst Mark Hertling said the situation was positive for Ukraine from both morale and battlefield perspectives.

“It reinforces the fact that they are moving forward,” Hertling told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Meanwhile, “every single piece of land Ukrainian forces can pull back to their sovereign territory is going to be part of a march toward operational success,” Hertling said.

Reporting on developments, Russian military bloggers offered a pessimistic assessment of the situation facing the Kremlin’s forces in the area. The Rybar Telegram channel suggested late Sunday that Ukraine’s offensive looked set to continue, adding that Russian forces “should expect the pressure to intensify in the near future.”

Fighting is taking place near the village of Urozhaine, slightly further down the river, Rybar reported. The channel added that heavy cloud and rain were also limiting Russian forces’ ability to use drones to repel the Ukrainian advance.

A Ukrainian army spokesman said Russian forces had blown up a dam on the river, adding that there was flooding on both banks but saying it “would not affect our counteroffensive actions.”

On Monday, Ukraine accused Russia of blowing up another small dam along the border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, near the village of Novodarivka.

Floodwaters spilled over both banks of the Mokri Yaly River after the dam of a small reservoir near the village was destroyed, according to Ukraine’s Military Media Center.

Novodarivka is one of several villages in the area that Kyiv’s troops have claimed in recent days.

In its most recent battlefield roundup, Russia’s Ministry of Defense made no mention of retreats but said its forces had “destroyed the concentrations of manpower and equipment” of three Ukrainian brigades operating in the same area.

Further west, in neighboring Zaporizhzhia region, Russian airstrikes and artillery fire by the Vostok brigade had succeeded in pushing back three Ukrainian advances south of Orikhiv, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian army spokesman told CNN that Kyiv’s forces have been counterattacking around the eastern city of Bakhmut for a week but downplayed its importance saying, “this is not a major offensive.”

“These are counterattacks where we take advantage of the fact that the enemy is rotating, that the enemy has not fully reconnoitered, has not fully coordinated its units, has not fully dug in. We take advantage of this and counterattack them,” Serhii Cherevatyi told CNN by phone.

He said Russian forces continue their shelling towards Ukrainian positions but said Ukraine’s forces had advanced up to two kilometers (1.25 miles) in places.

Cherevatyi said Russia’s presence in Bakhmut was maintained by airborne troops, with support from infantry personnel and mercenaries from several smaller private military companies.

While Russian forces continue to hold the city, Ukraine’s forces have concentrated their efforts on areas to the northwest and southwest.

Hertling noted that Ukraine has been using a “deep-strike capability” to disrupt Russian supply lines well back from the front lines.

“Ukraine has been very good in terms of striking deep targets that effect the logistics support,” Hertling said.

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