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1 May, 2024 15:20

Donbass breakthrough, cluster munitions, and drone-proof tanks: The past week in the Ukraine conflict (VIDEOS)

The Russian military has made new gains, seizing partial control of the key town of Ocheretino
Donbass breakthrough, cluster munitions, and drone-proof tanks: The past week in the Ukraine conflict (VIDEOS)

The past week in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has seen active combat continuing in multiple locations along the front line, with both sides exchanging long-range attacks, some of which have involved cluster munitions.

Moscow’s troops made new gains in Donbass, with most of the active combat witnessed along the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line, which are villages northwest of the town of Avdeevka, liberated by the Russian military in mid-February. The line, stretching along a system of ponds and canals, has been breached by the Russian forces and is now largely under the control of the country’s forces.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the liberation of Semenovka, a village located between Orlovka and Berdychi, with only the latter settlement among those located along the line not officially under Russian control. However, footage circulating online purports to show Russian troops hoisting the flag of their unit in Berdychi, and an official announcement is expected in a matter of days.

Donbass breakthrough

The Russian military has broken through Ukrainian defensive lines near Ocheretino, a key Donbass town located some 10km northwest of Avdeevka and immediately to the north of the Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line. Ocheretino used to be a major logistics hub for the Ukrainian forces, as well as an important stronghold given its elevated location.


Russian forces reportedly advanced rapidly towards the small town along the local railway line, seizing control of the southern part of Ocheretino and expanding through the whole town in a matter of days. Thus far, the Russian Defense Ministry has not officially confirmed the liberation of the town, as it usually announces such developments only after establishing full control over a location and its vicinity. However, footage circulating online shows the country’s forces hoisting a flag at the local administration building.

In Ukraine, the loss of Ocheretino has been widely blamed on the 115th Mechanized Brigade, which allegedly retreated from the town without receiving an order to do so. Other units, including the 47th Mechanized Brigade ‘Magura’, which is considered to be an elite unit packed with Western-supplied hardware, have reportedly been deployed to dislodge the Russian forces from Ocheretino without success to date.


The fall of Ocheretino has allowed Russian troops to advance on nearby villages, namely Novobakhmutovka and Solovyovo to the south, as well as Keramik and Novokalinovo to the east. Ukrainian forces stationed there have reportedly begun a disorganized retreat from the settlements, with the liberation of Novobakhmutovka officially confirmed on Sunday by the Russian Defense Ministry.

‘Tsar-grill’ tanks

The concept of the so-called “Tsar-grill” tanks, featuring bulky anti-drone shells covering the whole vehicle, has apparently spread within the Russian military. Multiple vehicles armored in such fashion have been spotted operating near the Donbass city of Chasov Yar, footage circulating online shows.

According to Ukrainian media reports, the column was targeted by multiple FPV kamikaze drones, and, despite their numbers, only one of the vehicles was damaged.

Tanks with large “Tsar-grill” anti-drone shells debuted in mid-April near the town of Krasnogorovka, located to the west of Donetsk, which has seen intense combat over the past few weeks. The unsightly contraption has proven to be very effective in combat, providing solid protection from incoming FPV drones, which have become a growing threat to both sides in recent months. Last week, however, one of the original tanks hit a landmine near Krasnogorovka and was abandoned.

Source: Telegram @boris_rozhin

The damaged tank was ultimately towed away by an armored engineering vehicle for repairs and is expected to return to action shortly.

Source: Telegram @boris_rozhin

Cluster munitions 

Both sides have actively used controversial cluster munitions for long-range strikes over the past week. On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported shooting down six ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles, which had recently been delivered to Ukraine by the US. The missiles were apparently packed with cluster warheads, with at least one of them spilling unexploded bomblets in a rural area near Simferopol, according to Sergey Aksyonov, the head of the Republic of Crimea.

While the Russian military had largely abstained from using cluster munitions early in the conflict, it changed its stance after Kiev’s Western backers began delivering such weapons to Ukraine. Infrared drone footage circulating online purports to show a strike involving three RBK-500 cluster bombs, which spill their contents on Ukrainian positions at an unspecified location.

Another drone video shows a cluster-munitions strike on a Ukrainian military depot, with the bomblets sparking multiple fires in the area.

It was not immediately clear which projectile was used in the strike on the depot, which is believed to have been located more than 100km away from the front line in Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk Region.