As the Russian forces retreated due to a sustained Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, three bridges vital to continuing the Ukrainian advance were blown up, satellite images from BlackSky and the European Space Agency show.
The images from Black Sky, taken on May 12, show collapsed sections of the bridges crossing the Siverskyi Donets River near the villages of Rubizhne and Staryi Saltiv, which are about 10 miles south of the Russian border.
The village of Rubizhne is near Staryi Saltiv, although it shares the same name with the city further south in Luhansk.
The villages were recently liberated by Ukrainian forces.
Another satellite image, taken on May 8, by the European Space Agency shows the bridge across the Pecheneg hydroelectric power station — the nearest bridge to the south — has also been blown up.
There are only two smaller bridges to the north, in the currently Russian-occupied villages of Ohirtseve and Buhrukuvatka, which cross the river. Their current status is unknown, as clouds have obscured any recent satellite imaging.
Why the bridges are important: If those bridges are compromised, the momentum of the Ukrainian advance will be significantly hampered.
It’s not just momentum that’s important for the Ukrainian forces. Major Russian supply lines, which are vital to the Russian military advance near the city of Izium and into the Luhansk region, are just east of the Siverskyi Donets River in the Kharkiv region.
While it’s not entirely clear when the bridges were blown, or who is responsible for doing so, it’s unlikely the Ukrainians are responsible for their destruction. The bridges are just too vital to their counteroffensive, and to targeting the supply lines.