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Wαr Report: Drone footage confirms failed Russiαn military pontoon crossing

As Russiα continues its assault on Ukrαine, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is keeping a close eye on Russiα’s movements across the military, cyber, and information domains. With more than seven years of experience monitoring the situation in Ukrαine, as well as Russiα’s use of propaganda and disinformation to undermine the United States, NATO, and the European Union, the DFRLab’s global team presents the latest installment of the Russiαn wαr Report.

Drone footage confirms failed Russiαn military pontoon crossing in Donbas

On May 11, reports surfaced of Ukrαiniαn forces successfully ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏing a Russiαn unit trying to cross the strategically important river of Siversky Donets in the Donbas region.

The reports were supported by drone photos showing the obliteration of the Russiαn units at their crossing point, which the DFRLab has geolocated to the river in question.

According to a tweet published by the Ukrαiniαn Ministry of Defense, the Ukrαiniαn Army artillerymen of the 17th Tank Brigade “have opened the holiday season” on Russiαn armed units.

The Siverskyi Donets River, which flows from southern Russiα through the separatist controlled regions of Donbas, has become a barrier for Russiαn forces trying to move deeper into Ukrαiniαn territory. Some reports suggested that Russiαn units tried to cross the river five times, however this information could not be independently verified.

Drone footage of the incident allowed the scene to be easily geolocated to an area just a few miles from the Ukrαiniαn town of Belohorivka, in Luhansk Oblast. The DFRLab then cross-referenced the drone footage with satellite imagery captured the day after the incident. For example, a Planet.com satellite image taken on May 12 shows the remains of the pontoon bridge (marked in blue). This confirmed the photos shared by Ukrαiniαn Ministry of Defense as genuine.

According to one estimate, Ukrαiniαn forces ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏed a Russiαn pontoon bridge together with at least six tanks, fourteen BMP armored vehicles, seven  MT-LB amphibious vehicles, a tugboat and five other armored vehicles.

A separate visual calculation done by open source researcher @Blue_Sauron, seventy-three pieces of Russiαn equipment were ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏed or abandoned. If accurate, this would constitute an entire battalion tactical group (BTG).