Elite Unit of Russian Army Destroyed in 14-Hour Battle, Ukraine Says

Kyiv's forces destroyed an elite Russian army unit during a battle that raged for more than 14 hours, according to Ukraine's military.

The 80th assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on its Facebook page that its troops had successfully stopped a Russian attempt to advance via a strategically important highway in eastern Ukraine.

The post said that the Ukrainian paratroop brigade, which is garrisoned in Lviv, used NLAW grenade launchers to attack a Russian BMD combat vehicle and troops. It said that 50 personnel were killed from the Pskov-based 76th Guards Air Assault Division, "which is considered elite in the Russian armed forces."

A senior lieutenant and senior soldier from the Ukrainian brigade refused evacuation despite suffering wounds and continued to lead fire until Russian troops retreated, leaving the bodies of the dead behind, the post said.

 Severodonetsk, Ukraine
In this image, smoke rises above the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops on June 2, 2022. Ukraine's military has said that its 80th assault brigade had destroyed a unit of Russia's 76th Guards Air Assault Division. ARIS MESSINIS/Getty Images

"The coordinated actions of the artillery units of the 80th brigade, in the end, inflicted a mass artillery strike on the enemy," said the post in Ukrainian, according to a translation.

Russia has not commented on the alleged battle and Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.

While Tuesday's post by the Ukrainian military did not name the town where the battle took place, it comes as Russia focuses its attacks on Severodonetsk and Lysychansk as it seeks to capture all of eastern Ukraine's Donbas region.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that his forces have "fully liberated" residential neighborhoods of Severodonetsk and are advancing in the town of Popasna.

"Its industrial zone and nearby settlements continue to be taken under control," he said in a defense ministry briefing, according to Russian state agency RIA Novosti.

Shoigu also said road traffic can travel from Russia to annexed Crimea via territories captured in southeastern Ukraine. He added that Russian forces have captured 6,489 Ukrainian troops.

However, the exact scope of Russian gains in Severodonetsk is still uncertain. The U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that the nature of urban combat is "obfuscating reports of control of terrain within" the city although it added it was "likely" that Moscow's forces control much of it.

"The exact situation in the city remains unclear," the ISW said Monday. "Control of terrain is likely changing hands frequently."

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said last week that Ukrainian troops had recaptured around one fifth of Severodonetsk from Russian forces, amid warnings that should the city fall it could lead to Moscow's complete occupation of the Luhansk region.