Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on Feb. 25, 2022.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on Feb. 25, 2022. AFP via Getty Images / ANATOLII STEPANOV

‘Amphibious Assault is Underway’: Russian Troops Are Landing In Eastern Ukraine, Pentagon Says

Russia's advances are encountering more resistance than expected, U.S. defense official says, as forces encircle Kyiv.

Russia has launched an amphibious assault from the Sea of Azov into the contested Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, a senior defense official said Friday. 

“An amphibious assault is underway to the west on the Sea of Azov, to the west of Mariupol, and the indications are right now that they are putting potentially thousands of naval infantry ashore there,” the official told reporters at the Pentagon.

On Wednesday, Pentagon officials had said that at least 10 Ropucha-class landing ships were assembled off Ukraine. Each can carry 10 battle tanks and about 340 troops. The landing began near the port city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region mid-Friday local time, the official said.  

In all, about 50,000 of the roughly 150,000 troops Russia had assembled along the Ukrainian border have entered the besieged country, the official said. 

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said “our forces have taken full control” of Mariupol as well as Shchastia, an inland town and region in the Luhansk region. It added that “at least six planes, two helicopters, and dozens of enemy armored vehicles have been destroyed.”

Ukrainian forces have also been able to hold off the advancing Russian force at several other locations, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday. 

“The enemy has suffered heavy losses. The losses of the enemy will be even greater. They came to our land. Ukraine is under attack from the north, east, and south. Attacked from the air. Protection works. Today, the army and national solidarity are the mainstay of Ukrainian statehood,” Zelenskyy said. 

The Ukrainian defense ministry said as of mid-Friday Ukraine time, 2,800 Russian troops had been killed, 80 tanks destroyed and more than 500 armored vehicles disabled, but there was no way to independently confirm those reports. 

“We do assess that there is greater resistance by the Ukrainians than the Russians expected,” the senior defense official said. 

The UK’s Defense Ministry tweeted Friday that after armored forces failed to capture the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, they began advancing again on an alternate route—but “the bulk of Russian forces remain more than 50 km from the centre of the city.”