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'Biggest win since WW2': The site where Ukraine says it killed 'hundreds' of Russians after botched plan

The recent Russian military failures have disproportionately affected the Donbas.

President Volodymyr Zilenskyy claims that the twin regions of Luhansk (in eastern Ukraine) are being “turned into Hell”. He’s right. They are.

This war is destroying homes and businesses and pummelling cities and towns.



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They are terrorizing their residents. Splitting families is taking place. Many are dying and being maimed, and thousands of people are fleeing for their lives.

Severodonetsk, Luhansk, is the last Ukrainian resistance pocket. The Russians want this city to complete their capture and move on to Donetsk.

The military plan has been dramatically rewritten after their failed attempt to cross the Donets River at Bilohorivka to capture the entire of Luhansk.

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Redrafting is about shifting strategies and increasing the pace.

The Ukrainian military has not allowed many people to go on the ground at the site of its largest military victory since the Second World War.

Our military guides led us through the forest to reach the area. This will be remembered in Ukrainian military history as a crucial strategic victory against a much larger enemy.

This area is now a graveyard for Russian military vehicles.


“Some kind of suicide club”

The river’s western bank is covered in unexploded ordnance, spent ammunition cartridges and grenades.

Here, the Ukrainians claim that hundreds of Russian soldiers were killed in a failed plan.

Image: Photo: Chris Cunningham

They tried to build pontoon bridges across a river using smoke as a cover, but the Ukrainians waited and launched a fierce defense – showering what they claim was a Russian battalion and wiping out approximately 70 vehicles and hundreds more troops.

“It seemed like they were some kind of suicide club, or their commanders didn’t care for them,” Yuri says to us.

“It’s strange. They sent them to death… and they obeyed stupid, stupid orders by their commanders.”

Image: This area is littered in equipment, ammo, and unexploded ordnance. Pictures by Chris Cunningham

We were allowed to access the bodies, but they had already been removed. It was difficult to determine the exact number of victims, but it was clear that there was a vicious attack.

It has had a positive impact on the morale of Ukraine and prompted some substantial criticism towards Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader.

It seems that it also pressured the Russians to change their tactics.

After failing to encircle Kyiv’s capital or Kharkiv’s second city, the humiliating tragedy at Bilohorivka prompted a shift in direction.


Scraping baby food from the ruins

Russians refuse to abandon their ambitions to seize Severodonetsk.

They have just moved a few kilometers south and are now focusing on Soledar. This may be a prelude for cutting off Severodonetsk.

Image: Russia is focusing on the Donbass, and it’s being pummelled. Pictures by Chris Cunningham

Soledar is paying for the missiles and rockets. A massive crater is located in the middle of the main street. The theatre in the town is almost ruined.

We saw men carrying around bags of whatever they could find from the wreckage.

Alex, a man who calls himself Alex, shared his story about how he had been looting theatre ruins for baby food and pasta packets. It was used to store humanitarian aid prior to the bombing days earlier.

Alex, whose face was swollen from carrying heavy bags of theatre goods, tells us that he doesn’t believe the bombs are Russian.

He said, “These are Ukrainian bombs.” “Not Russian”.

Image: Soledar’s theatre in devastation Photo by Chris Cunningham
Image: Alex in the wreckage of Soledar’s Theatre. Photo by Chris Cunningham

He continues to state that he believes Ukraine should give up Donbass if the war is stopped.

This outcome is completely unacceptable to the majority of Ukrainians, beginning with President Zelenskyy.

However, the economic and human costs of this war are immense. The president predicts that the last stages will be the most bloody. He is almost certain to be right.



Alex Crawford reports live from Donbas with Jake Britton and producers Nick Davenport, Artem Lysak and Misha Cherniak.

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