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Frontline update: Russians cut off key supply road to Ukrainians in Bakhmut

Situation near the Khromove supply road to Bakhmut. Screengrab from the video.
Frontline update: Russians cut off key supply road to Ukrainians in Bakhmut
In our daily update from the front, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Russian forces have breached an important line of fortifications to cut off the Khromove supply road to Bakhmut, but a Ukrainian comprehensive trench network prevents Russians from controlling the area.

Day 422: April 21

Today, the biggest news is coming from the East. Here, Russian forces rapidly shifted their focus from the city [of Bakhmut] to the flanks and once again increased the pressure on the Ukrainian defense that was protecting the Khromove supply road.

The freshest reports suggest that the main Ukrainian defense line goes along Krainia Street. The commanders of the units on the ground evaluated the condition of the infrastructure and decided that it was physically no longer fit for defense. According to Russian sources, Russians are maintaining a permanent presence only in the outer quarter of the region, as all buildings in between have been destroyed. This means that to maintain constant pressure, they must make a long hike through the grey zones, increasing their losses due to snipers, mortar, and artillery strikes. As can be seen from the combat footage, the streets in front of Ukrainian positions are filled with Russian corpses.

In the southern part of the region, a Ukrainian 1st Border Detachment fighter reported that Russians made three attempts to move closer to the high-rise buildings. Unfortunately for Russians, they are attacking from tactically disadvantageous positions, as Ukrainians are not only located in higher buildings but also on a hill. As a result, the Russians failed to develop a bridgehead north of Korsunskogo Street and lost 25 troops. In the meantime, the Ukrainian artillery crews continue to hunt down forces concentrations south of Korsunskoho Street. Today’s combat footage showed that the 3rd Assault Brigade eliminated at least six houses that were seen to receive ammunition or house the Russian troops.

But the biggest news by far is that Russians managed to breach one of the most important lines of fortifications in front of the Khromove highway and cut off supplies to Ukrainian fighters in Bakhmut. Yesterday Russian sources reported that the main axis of advance was changed, and it was once again decided to focus on cutting off the supply roads. As you remember, the closest Russian positions were near the rails, and most of the fights took place along the tree line that separated the Ukrainian-held field and the Russian-held field.

Situation in and around Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, as of 22 April 2023. Map: Deepstatemap.

Recently, Russians launched a comprehensive attack and managed to push Ukrainians out of the long trench that leads right to the Khromove highway, meaning they have essentially established physical control over the road. “dNR head adviser” Yan Gagin stated that Bakhmut was finally taken into a pocket. Ukrainian forces cannot provide supplies or retreat.

However, if we look at the satellite imagery, we can see that Ukrainians developed an extensive trench network in front of the road, behind the road, and also all over the place. This was done precisely for such a development to ensure that Russians could not control the whole region by breaching defense in 1 trench. Russian forces opened three lines of attack to prevent the Ukrainian defense from working synergistically. As a result, two attacks were repelled, and 1 Russian attack succeeded, and they established control over the western line. This put Russians in a very inconvenient position, as Ukrainians surround them. Geolocated footage showed that Ukrainians were using grenade throwers, firing at Russians from 3 sides. A Ukrainian fighter from the Aidar Battalion reported that the situation is under control and, for the most part, Russians are being eliminated and taken captive.

In the face of the overwhelming evidence that the claims of the encirclement of Bakhmut were false, Russian officials faced a huge backlash and pressure. The Head of the Wagner forces also criticized the DNR authorities for undermining public trust. Shortly, the Head of the DNR made an official follow-up appeal and withdrew the statement about the encirclement of Bakhmut.

Overall, Ukrainians have built a very powerful defense line in front of the Khromove highway that ensures that Russians cannot establish control over the region by breaching just one strong point. Decentralization of defense allowed Ukrainians to immobilize Russian attackers and prevent them from achieving tactical goals. Careful planning ensures that Ukrainian fighters will continue receiving supplies via other small roads because even though Russians got close, they are located behind the hill and have no visual control over the ground south of the highway.

Read also:

Frontline update: Ukrainians step back from Bakhmut train station as battle for the city continues


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