Explosions rock Donbas as Russian ammo dump goes up in flames

Explosions rock Donbas as Russian ammo dump goes up in flames in fresh blow to Putin’s ‘exhausted’ forces almost six months after war began

  • Explosions lit up sky in Donetsk after overnight strike on Russian ammo dump  
  • Russian state media said Ukraine hit ‘warehouses’, without linking it to military
  • It is just the latest arms depot to be hit, after blasts rocked bases in Crimea 
  • Attacks have badly hurt Russia’s ability to wage artillery warfare with Putin’s ‘exhausted’ men struggling to advance six months after war began, experts say 

Explosions lit up the early morning sky over Russian-occupied Donbas this morning as yet another of Putin’s ammo dumps went up in flames.

Videos captured on the eastern outskirts of the city of Donetsk showed smoke and flames engulfing a set of badly-damaged buildings as the sun came up Monday, with multiple blasts caught on camera.

It is just the latest arms depot to go up in flames after blasts at bases across occupied Crimea that Ukraine says has badly-damaged Russia’s ability to fight.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War say Putin’s ‘exhausted’ forces are now struggling to make any ground and believe his invasion will soon ground to a halt.  

Meanwhile Ukrainian commanders say they are confident in their ability to wear down Russia’s army and force it to retreat, as what was supposed to be a days-long ‘special military operation’ has dragged out into a nearly six-month war.

Explosions tear apart warehouses in Russian-occupied Donetsk this morning as what is believed to be an ammunition dump goes up in smoke

Russian state media has acknowledged the blasts and blamed them on Ukraine, but claimed a series of warehouses was destroyed without mentioning any link to the military

The ammo dump was destroyed as analysts said Russia’s ‘exhausted’ forces are bogged down across the Donbas front, with Putin’s invasion close to grinding to a halt

Russian state media has acknowledged the blast in Donetsk and blames Ukraine for carrying it out, but said Kyiv’s forces struck ‘warehouses’ with no mention of a link to the armed forces.

Ukraine has not acknowledged being behind the attack, but it follows a pattern of Russian arms dumps, command posts and key transport links being destroyed in order to halt Russia’s advance – and perhaps send it into reverse.

Those strikes have mainly focused on the south, in areas around the city of Kherson and across occupied Crimea.

Three bridges linking Kherson to Russian-occupied territories in the east of Ukraine have been all-but destroyed in recent weeks in what are thought to have been strikes by Kyiv’s men using HIMARS.

Blasts have also destroyed or damaged three bases in Crimea – two airfields and an ammo dump – and have also severed bridges across the wider Kherson region.

These have been blamed on Ukrainian saboteurs working behind Russian lines, because they are out of range of Kyiv’s missile forces.

Monday’s blasts took place hundreds of miles to the east, in Donetsk, where heavy fighting was reported along the frontline at the weekend.

Putin’s forces made some gains – capturing the town of Dacha to the west of Donetsk and attacking near Avdiivka – but Ukraine’s armed forces said other assaults near Izyum, Siversk and Bakhmut were turned back.

Analysts for respected US think-tank Institute for the Study of War wrote: ‘Russian forces’ momentum from territorial gains around Bakhmut and Avdiivka in late July is likely exhausted.

‘Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine are likely culminating although very small Russian advances will likely continue.

‘The Russian military has shown a continual inability to translate small tactical gains into operational successes, a failing that will likely prevent Russia from making significant territorial advances in the coming months barring major changes.’

Putin had been hoping for a quick and largely bloodless invasion when he ordered troops across Ukraine’s border on February 24, with the main goal being a precision strike on Kyiv to topple the government and install a puppet regime.

But his plans ran into immediate problems when Ukraine put up tougher-than-expected resistance, and convoys heading to Kyiv from Belarus got bogged down.

Faced with the prospect of being surrounded and forced to surrender, Russia beat a retreat from Kyiv and instead concentrated its efforts on seizing Donetsk and Luhansk regions – which together make up the Donbas.

Their efforts in the east have met with marginally more success, including the capture of Mariupol and most of Luhansk – but have still fallen far short of Putin’s aim.

Russia is also aiming to hold territory it has captured in southern Ukraine, after a break-out from Crimea early in the war captured swathes of land – including the cities of Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdyansk.

Ukraine is thought to be behind a series of recent blasts at Russian military sites, including in occupied Crimea, where Saki airbase (pictured) was all-but destroyed 

A series of explosions damaged two Russian airfields and destroyed an ammunition dump in Crimea, which Putin’s forces have occupied since 2014 

Ukraine is now attempting to wear down Russian forces to the point where holding territory becomes impossible, which Kyiv hopes will force a wholesale retreat.

That is what lies behind the attacks on bridges, railroads, ammo dumps and command posts, analysts and Ukrainian commanders told the Wall Street Journal at the weekend.

Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told the paper that Russia’s logistics system is ‘exhausted’ because it was not designed ‘to sustain a long conflict outside of Russia’.

Unlike most other modern militaries, Russia is heavily reliant on trains to supply the large amounts of ammunition its forces use to bulldoze through enemy lines so its troops can capture the ruins left behind.

Cutting rail lines and destroying ammo dumps near the front forces Putin’s commanders to rely on long-distance truck convoys to move ammo around, hampering its ability to fight.

Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman, the former director of logistics and engineering for U.S. Central Command, added: ‘If you can’t keep the required inflow of supplies, at some point you have to give ground.

‘Wars have been lost because of logistics.’ 

Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command, suggested that vulnerability is at the heart of Kyiv’s plans to recapture territory seized since the start of the invasion – and as far back as the last war in 2014.

Ukraine will not be able to out-match Russia in terms of raw troops numbers, vehicles or firepower – despite mobilising its population and getting supplies from the West, she conceded.

But, by using the weapons and troops it does have to maximum effect, she believes it is possible to defeat the superior enemy.

‘There are more of them. They have more weapons. They’re more powerful in the air,’ Ms. Humeniuk told WSJ. 

‘So we have to find a way to beat them under these conditions. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.’ 

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