Home » On Bakhmut’s hot front: “We are gaining ground”

On Bakhmut’s hot front: “We are gaining ground”

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On Bakhmut’s hot front: “We are gaining ground”

KRAMATORSK. While we are driving along the old road that leads from Kostantinivka to Bakhmut, the military driver says that there is no longer any need to turn towards the countryside following the route that was taken up to some time ago – a much longer, muddy and fuller road. of holes – but we can continue straight ahead to get to Chasiv Yar. He elucidates us: «The Russians had arrived within three hundred meters of the road and therefore we passed from the inside, but now we have pushed them back and have regained control in this direction».

During the journey, the military press office explains the day’s program to us, the first stop will be at their base in Chasiv Yar, then we will proceed with another car to head towards the hills from which they control Bakhmut: «We will arrive at a point where which you will see the city we hold under fire from the south and west, if you see smoke rising into the sky it will have been caused by our artillery”. In Chasiv Yar, a severely damaged city, the shelling is continuous, while we move through the streets full of debris, we notice that the artillery shelling – most of it fired by the Ukrainians in the direction of Bakhmut – is incessant. The buildings appear destroyed, the apartments on the ground floor and the basements are almost exclusively occupied by the military, we see some civilians on bicycles moving stealthily from one block to another of buildings blackened by flames. We approach Bakhmut on an off-road vehicle, a soldier sits in the trunk, we pass what was once the last checkpoint – destroyed by bombing – before entering Bakhmut. We go around a destroyed bridge, in front of us – a few hundred meters away, a Grad rocket falls – we see smoke rising, we turn abruptly in the opposite direction. We park the car protected by trees and we enter the clearing, sheltered, where the Ukrainian soldiers are. In the distance we see Bakhmut, the artillery shelling from both sides is continuous. We walk in the trenches, our boots are completely immersed in the mud, from these positions the military of the anti-aircraft unit operate with shoulder-mounted missile launchers capable of hitting helicopters or large approaching enemy drones. From here we clearly distinguish the various blackened and destroyed blocks of Bakhmut buildings, we are about 4 km away.

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We continue to move horizontally in the trenches to reach the anti-tank unit, from the mud of the trenches we go up on empty ammunition boxes that sink into the mud until we enter a small shelter dug underground. Here a soldier with a small monitor remotely controls the territory through a camera of a Stugna-P, a Ukrainian-made anti-tank guided missile system. This, in addition to having the possibility of hitting Moscow’s armed vehicles, is also equipped with a thermal camera through which the soldier monitors the movements of the Russian soldiers inside Bakhmut’s apartments before shooting and hitting them. The missile travels at a speed of 4 seconds per km, reaching its target in 12 seconds.

Ukrainian officials have insisted they still have a small foothold within the city limits of Bakhmut and that they are gaining ground on the city’s flanks, which they say was part of a plan for a “semi-encirclement ».

After declaring Bakhmut completely under Russian control, a few days ago Prigozhin, head of the Wagner militia, quickly announced that his forces would leave the city, but his motivations appear unreliable and his true plans difficult to discern.

Ukrainians do not trust. Certainly according to the commander of the unit, whom we interview, the movement of regular Russian units to defend Bakhmut could create gaps elsewhere along the front, weaknesses that Ukraine could try to exploit as it tries to recapture the territory occupied in the new counteroffensive.

After saying goodbye we continue our journey to Chasiv Yar, where we have to recover our car to return to Kramatorsk. Arrived at the base a soldier in slippers asks us for a cigarette, he is sitting on a bench intent on cleaning his Kalashnikov.

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