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Russia takes losses in failed river crossing, officials say

Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theater building during heavy fightin...
Local residents fil bottles with drinking water brought by Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry in Mariupol, in territory under the g...
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto shake hands after signing a security assurance, at the Presidential...
An elderly woman walks inside a metro station being used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
Associate professor of Ukrainian literature Mykhailo Spodarets gives an online lesson from the basement of his house, used as a temporary shelter, in ...
A man shows a part of a missile found in a residential area after Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Ph...
A baby bed is seen inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/And...
A early 200-year old monument to legendary Prince Volodymyr, a Kyiv landmark and one of the symbols of the Ukrainian capital, is wrapped to protect it...
A early 200-year old monument to legendary Prince Volodymyr, a Kyiv landmark and one of the symbols of the Ukrainian capital, is wrapped to protect it...
A crater of an explosion after Russian shelling is seen next to a damaged apartment building in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 20...
A man rides a bicycle past a building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriy...
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a closer view of eastern end of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the gov...
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Do...
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a closer view of barge, serna class landing craft and sunken serna craft near Snake Island i...
A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgen...
Municipal workers prepare a new tube to restore water supply in front of the building damaged by a Russian attack in Bahmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, May...
A smoke rises near a facility in Luhansk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol, in ...
Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theater building during heavy fightin...
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, arrives for a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russian soldier accuse...
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...
Volunteers unload humanitarian aid for elderly people in Bahmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A man grabs a crab as he casts his line into the Black sea in Odessa, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
A girl sits inside a subway car, parked in a metro station being used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mstysla...
Ukrainian servicemen load bodies of Russian soldiers into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Luka...
Ukrainian servicemen collect bodies of Russian soldiers to load into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo...
In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces Thursday, May 12, 2022, dozens of destroyed or damaged Russian armored vehicles on both ban...
People walk past part of a rocket that sits wedged in the ground in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Zhenia, a member of the Ukrainian territorial defence force, guards a position near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Ar...
An elderly woman sleeps inside a basement used as a bomb shelter during Russian attacks in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 202...
A mannequin dressed as a soldier is placed near a road in north Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Volunteers load a car with food and supplies at a donations distribution centre in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP P...
In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Ru...
Ukrainian army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank in north Kharkiv, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
People gather to fill cans with water from a firefighters truck in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
A special task force policeman inspects a site after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...
Police cars are seen amid debris at a police patrol department building that was heavily damaged after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, L...
The letter Z, which has become the Russian emblem for the war, is seen on a blown Russian APC near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...
The letter Z, which has become the Russian emblem for the war, is seen on a blown Russian APC near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...
In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Ru...
Anna Loboda, 93, a former choir member who fled from Donetsk region, sings a song at Saint Michael monastery, in Odesa, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022....
Ukrainian servicemen carry bodies of Russian soldiers to load into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/E...
An elderly woman carries a can with water after collecting it from a firefighters truck in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. ...
A special task force policemen deliver bags of breads donated to the people who are living inside a basement used as a bomb shelter, during Russian at...
A part of an apartment is seen at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk ...

Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theater building during heavy fightin...

Local residents fil bottles with drinking water brought by Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry in Mariupol, in territory under the g...

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto shake hands after signing a security assurance, at the Presidential...

An elderly woman walks inside a metro station being used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Associate professor of Ukrainian literature Mykhailo Spodarets gives an online lesson from the basement of his house, used as a temporary shelter, in ...

A man shows a part of a missile found in a residential area after Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Ph...

A baby bed is seen inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/And...

A early 200-year old monument to legendary Prince Volodymyr, a Kyiv landmark and one of the symbols of the Ukrainian capital, is wrapped to protect it...

A early 200-year old monument to legendary Prince Volodymyr, a Kyiv landmark and one of the symbols of the Ukrainian capital, is wrapped to protect it...

A crater of an explosion after Russian shelling is seen next to a damaged apartment building in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 20...

A man rides a bicycle past a building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriy...

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a closer view of eastern end of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the gov...

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Do...

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a closer view of barge, serna class landing craft and sunken serna craft near Snake Island i...

A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgen...

Municipal workers prepare a new tube to restore water supply in front of the building damaged by a Russian attack in Bahmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, May...

A smoke rises near a facility in Luhansk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol, in ...

Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theater building during heavy fightin...

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, arrives for a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russian soldier accuse...

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. The trial of a Russ...

Volunteers unload humanitarian aid for elderly people in Bahmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

A man grabs a crab as he casts his line into the Black sea in Odessa, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

A girl sits inside a subway car, parked in a metro station being used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mstysla...

Ukrainian servicemen load bodies of Russian soldiers into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Luka...

Ukrainian servicemen collect bodies of Russian soldiers to load into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo...

In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces Thursday, May 12, 2022, dozens of destroyed or damaged Russian armored vehicles on both ban...

People walk past part of a rocket that sits wedged in the ground in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Zhenia, a member of the Ukrainian territorial defence force, guards a position near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Ar...

An elderly woman sleeps inside a basement used as a bomb shelter during Russian attacks in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 202...

A mannequin dressed as a soldier is placed near a road in north Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Volunteers load a car with food and supplies at a donations distribution centre in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP P...

In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Ru...

Ukrainian army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank in north Kharkiv, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

People gather to fill cans with water from a firefighters truck in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A special task force policeman inspects a site after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...

Police cars are seen amid debris at a police patrol department building that was heavily damaged after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, L...

The letter Z, which has become the Russian emblem for the war, is seen on a blown Russian APC near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...

The letter Z, which has become the Russian emblem for the war, is seen on a blown Russian APC near Kutuzivka, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP ...

In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Ru...

Anna Loboda, 93, a former choir member who fled from Donetsk region, sings a song at Saint Michael monastery, in Odesa, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022....

Ukrainian servicemen carry bodies of Russian soldiers to load into a railway refrigerator carriage in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/E...

An elderly woman carries a can with water after collecting it from a firefighters truck in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. ...

A special task force policemen deliver bags of breads donated to the people who are living inside a basement used as a bomb shelter, during Russian at...

A part of an apartment is seen at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk ...

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces suffered heavy losses in a Ukrainian attack that destroyed a pontoon bridge they were using to try to cross a river in the east, Ukrainian and British officials said in another sign of Moscow's struggle to salvage a war gone awry.

Ukrainian authorities, meanwhile, opened the first war crimes trial of the conflict Friday. The defendant, a captured Russian soldier, stands accused of shooting to death a 62-year-old civilian in the early days of the war.

The trial got underway as Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, seemed to turn increasingly into a grinding war of attrition.

Ukraine’s airborne command released photos and video of what it said was a damaged Russian pontoon bridge over the Siversky Donets River in Bilohorivka and several destroyed or damaged Russian military vehicles nearby — the Ukrainians said they destroyed at least 73 tanks and other military equipment during the two-day battle earlier this week. The command said its troops “drowned the Russian occupiers.”

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia lost “significant armored maneuver elements" of at least one battalion tactical group in the attack. A Russian battalion tactical group consists of about 1,000 troops.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

In other developments, a move by Finland and, potentially, Sweden to join NATO was thrown into question when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is “not of a favorable opinion” toward the idea. He accused Sweden and other Scandinavian countries of supporting Kurdish militants and others Turkey considers terrorists.

Erdogan did not say outright that he would block the two nations from joining NATO. But the military alliance makes its decisions by consensus, meaning that each of its 30 member countries has a veto over who can join.

An expansion of NATO would be a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who undertook the war in what he said was a bid to thwart the alliance’s eastward advance. But in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, other countries along Russia’s flank fear they could be next.

With Ukraine pleading for more arms to fend off the invasion, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief announced plans to give Kyiv an additional 500 million euros ($520 million) to buy heavy weapons.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomed the heavy weapons making their way to the front lines but admitted there is no quick end to the war in sight.

“We are entering a new, long-term phase of the war,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Extremely difficult weeks await us. How many there will be? No one can say for sure.”

The battle for the Donbas has turned into a village-by-village, back-and-forth slog with no major breakthroughs on either side and little ground gained. In his nightly address Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said no one can predict how long the war will last but that his country's forces have been making progress, including retaking six Ukrainian towns or villages in the past day.

Fierce fighting has been taking place on the Siversky Donets River near the city of Severodonetsk, said Oleh Zhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst. The Ukrainian military has launched counterattacks but has failed to halt Russia's advance, he said.

"The fate of a large portion of the Ukrainian army is being decided — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

The Ukrainian military chief for the Luhansk region of the Donbas said Friday that Russian forces opened fire 31 times on residential areas the day before, destroying dozens of homes, notably in Hirske and Popasnianska villages. He said Russian troops have taken nearly full control of Rubizhne, a city with a prewar population of around 55,000.

In the ruined southern port of Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters holed up in a steel plant faced continued Russian attacks on the last stronghold of resistance in the city. Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov Regiment, said his troops will hold out “as long as they can" despite shortages of ammunition, food, water and medicine.

Justin Crump, a former British tank commander who is now a security consultant, said Moscow's losses have forced it to downsize its objectives in Ukraine. He said the Russians have had to use hastily patched-together units that haven't trained together.

“This is not going to be quick. So we’re settled in for a summer of fighting at least. I think the Russian side is very clear that this is going to take a long time,” he said.

In the first war crimes case brought to trial, Russian Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, could get life in prison if convicted of shooting a Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy region on Feb. 28, four days into the invasion.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said she is readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses including bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting. It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects are in Ukrainian hands and how many would be tried in absentia.

In a small Kyiv courtroom, scores of journalists witnessed the start of the wartime proceedings, which will be closely watched by international observers to make sure the trial is fair.

The defendant, dressed in a blue and gray hoodie and gray sweatpants, sat in a small glass cage during the proceedings, which lasted about 15 minutes and will resume on Wednesday.

Shyshimarin was asked a series of questions, including whether he understood his rights and whether he wanted a jury trial. He declined the latter.

His Ukraine-assigned attorney, Victor Ovsyanikov, has acknowledged that the case against Shyshimarin is strong and has not indicated what the soldier's defense will be.

Shyshimarin, a member of a tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces, admitted that he shot the civilian in a video posted by the Security Service of Ukraine, saying he was ordered to do so.

As the war grinds on, teachers are trying to restore some sense of normalcy after the fighting shuttered Ukraine’s schools and upended the lives of millions of children.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, lessons are being given in a subway station that has become home for many families. Children joined their teacher Valeriy Leiko around a table to learn about history and art, with youngsters’ drawings lining the walls.

“It helps to support them mentally. Because now there is a war, and many lost their homes. ... Some people’s parents are fighting now,” Leiko said. In part because of the lessons, he said, “they feel that someone loves them.”

An older student, Anna Fedoryaka, monitored a professor's online lectures on Ukrainian literature, admitting: "It is hard to concentrate when you have to do your homework with explosions by your window."

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Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Elena Becatoros in Odesa, and other AP staffers around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


Updated : 2022-05-26 03:45 GMT+08:00