How Ukrainian forces denied Russia victory in Bakhmut by Victory Day

By | May 12, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

They started shelling at sunrise.

In the dawn haze, under the cover of their own artillery, small groups of Ukrainian soldiers advanced toward a Russian position on the outskirts of the embattled city of Bakhmut.

Drone footage had identified an avenue of attack on Russian lines on the outskirts of the besieged city. Intelligence suggested the Russians were so focused on the intense street battles playing out inside they were not expecting an assault in this direction, according to two battalion commanders in Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade who helped plan and execute the operation and spoke by telephone.

For nine months, the bloody fight for this eastern city has dragged out inch by inch, with massive casualties on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides. Yegeveniy Prigozhin, the high-profile commander of the mercenary Wagner Group, promised to deliver the city by May 9, Russia’s hugely important Victory Day celebration. By the end of April he claimed his forces had taken nearly the whole city.

Yet instead of giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a victory to announce in his speech in front of the Kremlin on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces scored a rare advance this week south of the city and held fast in the city center. The two commanders shared details of the surprise offensive, which Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrsky confirmed was successful. The Washington Post could not independently verify the details of the fighting.

On May 6, dozens of Ukrainian troops advanced on the Russian foxholes knowing they would “have to fight for every single pit,” said Rollo, the 29-year-old commander of the brigade’s first assault battalion, who spoke on the condition he would be identified only by his call sign.

The battle lasted for 12 grueling hours but by sundown, the troops from Wagner Group broke and fled, leaving five dead behind. [Continue reading…]