The Ukrainian military said Wednesday that despite heavy artillery fire on a number of fronts, Russian forces have made few advances toward their goal of securing all of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country.
On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter said the US had “highly credible” intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions “sometime in mid-May.”
In its latest operational update, the military said that the Russian missile attacks on Tuesday night were designed to destroy the transport infrastructure. Cruise missiles hit at least a half-dozen targets across central and western Ukraine in what appears to have been an attempt to hamper the transit of military equipment and supplies.
The Ukrainian railway system reported that more than 40 trains were delayed following the attacks.
One of the strikes was in the region of Zakarpattia, near the Slovak border, the first time it has been targeted since the invasion began.
Viktor Mykyta, head of Zakarpattia regional military administration, said a populated area had been hit but there were no casualties and work was underway to restore utilities.
Tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainians have moved from the east to the Zakarpattia region.
The Ukrainian General Staff update reported that there were few signs of Russian ground forces getting ready to move, but that more units from Russia’s Central Military District had been brought into border areas in Russia’s Bryansk region, which neighbors northeast Ukraine.
The General Staff said most of the offensive action continued to be in the form of artillery attacks. It said a ground advance toward Dovhenke had failed. Russian forces have been trying to push south from the Kharkiv region in an effort to surround Ukrainian units defending the Donetsk region, but with limited success, it said.
CNN is unable to confirm the details of the Ukrainian military’s update.
The military leadership did acknowledge that the Russians are advancing in the direction of the village of Shandryholove, where Ukrainian troops are trying to defend the approaches to the towns of Lyman and Sloviansk in the Donetsk oblast. In recent weeks, the Russian military has conducted repeated military strikes on Lyman, including on its railroad infrastructure.
“The enemy strengthened the group of troops and intensified air reconnaissance,” in the Lyman area, according to the update.
CNN has geolocated video from that same area showing Russian armor being destroyed by Ukrainian fire in recent days.
The military also reported continued fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, where Russian forces had failed to advance on the town of Orikhiv.
Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said rocket and bomb attacks continued on the towns of Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and Lysychansk. Two people had died. He said fighting also continued in the town of Popasna. CNN has geolocated video showing intense street fighting among the town’s ruins.
“The Russians are not just destroying Popasna. They are removing it from the map of Luhansk region,” Haidai said.
In neighboring Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk regional military administration, said the towns of Avdiivka and Maryinka were bombarded again Wednesday morning.