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Frontline report: Massive HIMARS raid makes Russians believe counteroffensive to start on May 9

Map: screenshot from the video.
Frontline report: Massive HIMARS raid makes Russians believe counteroffensive to start on May 9
Russian forces relocated at Bakhmut to prepare for a massive storming operation. At the same time, Ukrainians advanced in the Khromove area and the northeastern side of Bakhmut’s “citadel,” and conducted an extensive HIMARS raid, which made many Russian sources believe that Ukraine was going to launch its counteroffensive on 9 May close to midnight.

Day 439: May 08

On 8 May, the hottest part of the front line was the Bakhmut direction in Donetsk Oblast. On 7 May, the Russian Presidential Office announced they received Wagner Group head Prigozhin’s message, who threatened to withdraw from Bakhmut in the coming days. As a result, Putin forced the Ministry of Defense to give unlimited supplies to the Wagner Group and full autonomy over the entire direction. The same day Ukrainian Intelligence noted a significant movement of Russian forces towards Bakhmut – it was reported that during the day, Russians relocated thousands of troops to the second line in preparation for a massive storming operation.

Growing factionalism affecting Russia’s ability to coordinate coherent theater-wide defensive campaign – ISW

On 8 May, Ukrainians unleashed their HIMARS and conducted the most extensive HIMARS raid of the war. A fighter from the 24th Assault Brigade reported that the strikes continued the whole day and were also supported by aviation and other long-range artillery, such as M777. Another fighter reported that HIMARS strikes were distinctly concentrated in at least 3 areas and also provided support on demand.

One such area became the Khromove area. Two days ago, Ukrainians launched an extensive operation in this region that culminated on 8 May night. As you remember, previously, the Ukrainian 3rd Assault Brigade was conducting an operation to clear the trenches in between the two roads. Two days ago, this became the area of responsibility of the special forces detachment Terror. The main goal of this detachment was to breach Russian positions in a fortified shelter, destroy the enemy troops and create conditions for further advancement. Geolocated combat footage shows that the fighters prepared specific equipment in order to achieve their objective. Apart from the abundance of grenades, the fighters had powerful explosives they detonated from a distance. As a result, the task was completed, and they started preparing for the next move.

On 8 May, the commander of this detachment reported that they were conducting offensive actions from 4 am till midnight. He said that in the aftermath of this extensive operation, Ukrainians have advanced by 1 km forward, which means that at the moment, both heavily entrenched fields are under total Ukrainian control, and Russians have once again lost control over the Khromove road. Other fighters commented that such progress was achieved thanks to the coordination with HIMARS crews hitting the shelters occupied by Russians, which the infantry struggled to breach themselves.

Ukrainian artillery also intensely shelled and targeted Russians inside Bakhmut itself. Ukrainian fighters reported that after several days of using incendiary munitions, Russian forces assumed that the Ukrainian position in the citadel worsened and conducted several waves of attacks. Russian sources claimed that Wagner units launched a large-scale operation and started attacking along the whole contact line, while Ukrainian fighters wrote that even though there were indeed a lot of ground attacks during the day, they did not happen at once. The fighters said that Russians were sending several assault units in each direction to test waters, they would be eliminated by snipers and finished by mortar crews, and then Russians would send another group, which continued the whole day.

One of the main axes of advance became the northeastern side of the citadel. Several days ago, Russians managed to get across the street and establish control over a high-rise building. Shortly, Russian sources published a description of a new Russian tactic, which is indeed quite impressive. These standard soviet houses only have windows in front and the back and do not have windows to the sides. To avoid Ukrainian fire, Wagner forces started blowing up the side walls on the first and second floors, immediately penetrating Ukrainian defenses from the most unexpected and vulnerable side. As a result, they established control over the outer building of the citadel, but, unfortunately for the Russians, Ukrainians blew up the whole building after retreating. Ukrainians then also hit a Russian machine gun nest with artillery, which suppressed Ukrainian fire and allowed Wagners to approach the building from the side.

Another main axis of advance became Ukrainian positions on the city’s outer edge.

In our daily frontline report, 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.

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