Putin army ups 'tempo and size' of mechanised attacks in Ukraine as Republicans block huge aid package to Kyiv

Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasing “the tempo and size” of mechanised attacks throughout eastern Ukraine, say military experts, as Republicans in Washington block a huge aid package for Kyiv.

Ukrainian sources claimed Russia’s army was suffering heavy losses as it gained ground, including the destuction of numerous military vehicles.

The Institute for The Study of War said Russian forces conducted a roughly reinforced company-sized mechanised assault towards the town of Chasiv Yar, west of Bakhmut in the Donetsk province on April 4 and advanced up to its eastern outskirts.

Ukrainian forces destroyed 11 out of the 25 Russian armoured vehicles involved in the attack, according to a Ukrainian soldier.

Putin’s troops also made a series of other limited advances in the Bahkmut area including north of Vesele, northwest of Berestove and also seized a large section of southern Ivanivske, according to the Washington-based think tank.

The ISW added: “Russian forces are currently increasing the tempo and size of their mechanised assaults throughout eastern Ukraine and may be intensifying the overall tempo of their offensive operations in Ukraine.”

Military analysts believe this shift in Russian tactics may be to use the delay of more aid from the US for Kyiv to make advances, even if suffering heavy losses, or to do so before wetter spring weather makes it harder for tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to move on softer ground.

Putin’s army reportedly lost 12 tanks and eight infantry fighting vehicles in a battalion-sized mechanised assault near Avdiivka, in the eastern Donetsk province, at the end of last month.

After a Nato summit in Brussels, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron stressed he would travel to Washington next week to urge Republicans to stop blocking the multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine.

Encouraging other countries to put pressure on the Republicans, he said in a video message from the Nato gathering: “It’s American security, it’s European security, it’s Britain’s security that is on the line in Ukraine and they need our help.”

Britain and other countries need to examine how they could “do more” to provide air defences to Ukraine, he added, with Kyiv pleading for more Patriot systems.

Lord Cameron said there had been more than 700 missile and drone attacks on Ukraine in March alone.

He also urged more action to use frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s defence against Putin’s invasion.

“One day Russia is going to have to pay reparations for its illegal invasion of Ukraine,” he added.

In the widening conflict area, Russian air defences downed 53 Ukrainian drones overnight, most of them over the Rostov region, the RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Friday.

One drone was downed in the Saratov region where an airbase for Russian strategic bombers is located. Drones were also downed over the Kursk, Belgorod and Krasnodar regions, the ministry said.

Ukraine’s air force shot down all 13 drones used in Russia’s overnight attack on southern regions, the Ukrainian military said on Friday.

Shahed drones were destroyed over the Zaporizhzhia, Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Russia also used two S-300/S-400 missiles and three Iskander-M ballistic missiles in the attack.

One of the attacks targeted energy infrastructure in the Odesa region but air defences repelled all four drones, Ukraine’s southern group of forces said.

The debris damaged several private residences and farm buildings in Zaporizhzhia, the statement said.

Local officials also reported explosions in an attack in the eastern city of Kharkiv, a regular target of Russian attacks, late on Thursday.

The region’s governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said the attack damaged four cars and a five-storey building with no casualties reported as of Friday morning.

Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian grid infrastructure in recent weeks, aiming to disrupt the country’s power and energy network.