Battles rage in eastern, southern Ukraine

Russian forces in Ukraine are facing yet another setback. In the first weeks of the invasion, they failed to take the capital Kyiv. So they re-focused their efforts away from the north to areas in the south and east. However, they are being pushed back in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

Russian forces attempted a river crossing in the eastern Donbas region. They built a pontoon bridge and brought in armored vehicles. Then the Ukrainians attacked.

The Ukrainian military released footage of the bridge in ruins and a number of tanks and other vehicles destroyed. British defense officials say the Russians may have suffered losses equivalent to an entire battalion.

Russian commanders are making a significant effort to take control of Donetsk and another region in the east, Luhansk. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says those efforts, too, are doomed to fail.

Zelenskyy said Russia's strategic defeat is already obvious to everyone in the world -- and even to those who still communicate with them. He said they just don't have the courage to admit it.

Russian forces are also trying to make headway in southern Ukraine. The city of Mariupol has endured the most destructive fighting of the war. The two sides are battling for control of a steel-making compound where Ukrainian troops have been holding out. Officials in Kyiv say the battle for Mariupol has killed tens of thousands of people.

The fighting around Snake Island has become part of the battle for control of the Black Sea region. Satellite images appear to show a group of sunken Russian vessels near the island.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart for the first time since the invasion began. He pressed Sergei Shoigu for an immediate ceasefire. He also stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open.