On 26 April, a Ukrainian fighter reported that Russians were trying to take Khromove village by any means, storming the northern part of the village at least eight times per day. This is the village west of Bakhmut near the main supply road to Bakhmut.
According to the unconfirmed reports, Russian forces established control over one of two trench networks on the first line of defense but couldn’t manage to advance any further. The village remains under Ukrainian control. Russians use the largest mortar in the world with 130-kg projectiles in this sector.
As for the situation inside Bkahmut, Russians started utilizing 500-kg air-dropped bombs to wipe off the ground the last Ukrainian-held quarter of highrises where Ukrainian snipers had established position. If Ukraine doesn’t counter this aviation strike, the Ukrainian positions in Bakmut can quickly degrade.
To prevent this scenario, Ukrainian forces have reinforced air defense units in the area, organized additional mobile air defense troops inside the city, and responded with several of their aviation strikes on Russian positions.
Russians saw at what cost it took them to establish control over garages, small houses, and 4-story buildings, so storming the last huge block consisting of 10-story buildings may break Russian forces. To avoid absolutely devastating losses, Russians decided to wipe out the residential area. By destroying the key Ukrainian defense positions in the highrise buildings west of the military base, and east of the military base, Russians managed to enter the territory of the barracks, reaching the beginning of the first highrise quarter held by Ukrainians.
Based on the current setting, it is likely that the residential area clashes will start very soon, marking the beginning of the last chapter of the Battle for Bakhmut.
There is a lot of footage showing how Ukrainian air defense is shooting down aerial objects above Bakhmut, and it is highly likely that now the main focus of air defense operators will be jets and air bombs to force Russians to enter the close street fighting where Ukrainians have an advantage and can inflict significant losses.