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Frontline update: Russian forces feud as Ukraine strikes back near Bakhmut highway

Map of the bakhmut area in Donetsk Oblast. Screengrab from the video.
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. Lack of cooperation between Russian units northwest of Donetsk’s Bakhmut contributed to a successful Ukrainian counterattack to re-capture positions near the last paved supply road to the embattled city.

Day 426: April 25

[quote]”Today, the biggest news comes from the East. Here, Russian forces have been devoting considerable resources to the flanks in order to take control of the trenches in front of the Khromove highway and advance on Bakhmut from the west. However, some formations refused to cooperate with Wagner forces, leading to an immediate successful counterattack by Ukrainians, which caused a massive feud inside the Russian Army. “[/quote]

Last time I told you that Ukrainian and Russian forces had prolonged and brutal clashes in the trenches in front of the Khromove highway. I also told you that in the aftermath of the last counterattack, Ukrainians managed to reestablish control over the trenches between the highway and the field road.

Frontline update: Ukrainians launch special-op to regain lost ground in Bakhmut

The freshest reports indicate that Russians did not relinquish their attempts to establish physical control over the road. Recent geolocated footage showed that Russians started using tanks to support their infantry in field attacks. Unfortunately for Russians, Ukrainian artillery delivered a direct hit from the second attempt and instantly destroyed it. Ukrainian drone operators also recently released a video showing how they targeted Russian units northeast of Bohdanivka. They detected a small reconnaissance group and destroyed it with a kamikaze drone.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian fighters from the elite 3rd Assault Brigade continued storming Russian positions in the trenches. The combat footage revealed that Ukrainians were heavily relying on drone operators. The operation started with a sudden drone attack on the Russians. During the first stage of the operation, Ukrainians just used grenade-dropping drones and very quickly inflicted huge losses on unsuspecting Russians who were either sleeping or digging in. After that, several armored vehicles delivered the infantry, immediately jumping into the trenches and initiating close combat fighting. In order to reduce the risk, Ukrainians heavily relied on drone operators who communicated the situation behind the corners. This also allowed Ukrainians to throw grenades very effectively, as they would immediately receive a correction or a confirmation from the drone operator. During the most challenging parts of the mission, Ukrainians also used kamikaze drones. Such a guided explosive helped to hit a dynamic target quickly and precisely. The assault was extremely swift, and it looked like Russians simply did not have enough time to receive artillery support. As a result, Ukrainians left behind dozens of Russian corpses in the trenches.

Other footage indicates that Russians are trying to expand the area of operation and overwhelm Ukrainian forces by attacking them simultaneously along the whole Khromove line, and even started attacking Khromove itself. Considering the current setting, the Ukrainian Command decided to blow up the pontoon bridge between Khromove and Bakhmut in order to limit Russian possibilities in the case of similar rapid front-line shifts in this region.

In the meantime, the Wagner Group started being augmented by conventional Russian troops and other private military companies, particularly PMC Redut. This PMC reportedly took over responsibility for the newly captured by Wagner forces positions, highly likely somewhere near Khromove. Unfortunately for Wagners, PMC Redut did not follow Wagner’s orders and allowed Ukrainian forces to recapture the area. Interestingly, Gazprom created PMC Redut but is subordinate to the Russian Ministry of Defense, which is why it may not have followed the order on purpose.

This caused an instant and harsh backlash from Prigozhin, who said that completely inept micro-PMCs undermine the whole Wagner operation. As Russian forces get more and more confident about securing Bakhmut, the question of who is going to take the credit started rapidly arising and brought back intense competition and internal politics. If different elements of the Russian army continue competing for who is going to participate in the decisive mission, and reluctant units keep abandoning their positions on the flanks, expecting someone else to step up, then Ukrainians can exploit the weakening of the Russian grip on Bakhmut, prolong the battle and drain Russian resources for longer, and possibly even find a weak spot in the less protected flanks, and undo months of Russian efforts by penetrating Russian defenses.

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