Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russian airborne forces suffer ‘heavy casualties’

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(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 27, 7:08 am
Bucha resident who lost husband, unborn son tries to rebuild her life

Anna Polonska had struggled to get pregnant. So when she did, it was a moment of sheer joy; a happy family life lay ahead.

But days after Russia invaded Ukraine, her unborn son and husband were killed in shelling as they tried to flee Ukraine, she told ABC News.

She was also gravely injured in the attack, and doctors did not think she would survive.

Adding to her loss, soldiers stole almost all of her possessions and destroyed her apartment, she recalled.

But in a remarkable interview, Anna said she is now focusing on picking up the pieces — showing incredible courage and determination to live and walk again.

At least 3,998 civilians have been killed and 4,693 others have been injured in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

At least 260 children were among the dead and 404 among the injured, according to the OHCHR.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

Those areas include Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, Izium in the Kharkiv Oblast and Popasna in the Luhansk Oblast, where the OHCHR said “there are allegations of numerous civilian casualties.” Casualty numbers from those locations “are being further corroborated” and thus are not included in the latest statistics, according to the agency.

May 26, 6:06 am
Russia’s airborne forces suffer ‘heavy casualties’ after ‘tactical failures,’ UK says

The Russian military’s airborne forces, known as the VDV, “have been heavily involved in several notable tactical failures since the start of Russia’s invasion” of neighboring Ukraine, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“This includes the attempted advance on Kyiv via Hostomel Airfield in March, the stalled progress on the Izium axis since April, and the recent failed and costly crossings of the Siverskyi Donets River,” the ministry said Thursday in an intelligence update.

“Russian doctrine anticipates assigning the VDV to some of the most demanding operations,” the ministry added. “The 45,000-strong VDV is mostly comprised of professional contract soldiers. Its members enjoy elite status and attract additional pay. The VDV has been employed on missions better suited to heavier armoured infantry and has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign.”

The VDV’s “mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority,” according to the ministry.

“The misemployment of the VDV in Ukraine highlights how Putin’s significant investment in the armed forces over the last 15 years has resulted in an unbalanced overall force,” the ministry said. “The failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s more elite units.”

May 24, 4:47 pm
Drone footage shows devastation inside Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

Drone footage released by Russian media shows the devastation inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces fended off Russian troops for weeks amid intense fighting before surrendering.

The drone footage released by the Russian news outlet MIC Izvestia showed the collapsed walls of the plant and twisted metal and debris strewn about the entire facility.

The Russian Defense ministry on Friday said the last Ukrainian fighters defending Azovstal had surrendered, giving Russia full control of the port city of Mariupol.

The seizure of Mariupol, gives Russia command of a land route linking the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.

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