Ukrainians conducted a series of very successful HIMARS strikes at the Russian troops relocating to the Bakhmut direction. Relocation creates a perfect opportunity for identifying, tracking, and destroying enemy forces’ concentrations.
The target of the first strike once again became Mariupol. Local residents reported hearing several explosions. One photo clearly shows the aftermath of the air defense work. The picture was quickly analyzed for geolocation, and after determining from which building a person took a photo and determining the direction of the trajectory, it became clear that Russian air defense was shooting down the rockets near the industrial area Azovstal. This is where Russians reportedly use a lot of facilities as warehouses for equipment.
In the meantime, more information became available about Ukrainian yesterday’s strike on unspecified buildings near the airfield in Mariupol. Today satellite footage became available of this area, which shows that HIMARS rockets entered the center of the building. Ukrainian sources reported that there was an underground facility that was used as a high-level command post of the Russian forces that are operating in the Vuhledar and Zaporizhzhia areas. The Ukrainian Mariupol advisor to the mayor reported that 24 troops were killed and 37 were wounded. As a result of strikes on other facilities, Russians also lost a lot of vehicles of various types: from cars to APCs. Local residents noticed how Russians were transporting the destroyed machinery through the city.
A target of another strike became Tokmak in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Local residents reported hearing multiple explosions, which was later confirmed by the Russian-appointed head of the region. He stated that there were at least two explosions and that more information would become available later. HIMARS strikes were also recorded in the Donetsk Oblast. Russian independent investigative outlet reported that a Ukrainian HIMARS strike destroyed up to 10 T-90 tanks east of Marinka. Overall, it looks like by destabilizing the situation on the Bakhmut’s flanks and forcing Russians to send reinforcements, Ukrainians managed to destroy more heavy equipment during the relocation than during the storming operation of the flanks that Russians tried to reinforce. And the frequency and intensity of HIMARS strikes will continue to increase, especially as Norway and the UK recently agreed to supply Ukraine with eight artillery systems M270, which has twice as many rockets as HIMARS.
When it comes to Bakhmut itself, after another night of surviving some of the most intense shelling with incendiary munitions, some Ukrainian soldiers reported that the last units that were still present on the outskirts of Bakhmut finally received an order to withdraw to Ivanivske. This is corroborated by multiple videos of Ukrainians driving out of the southern outskirts towards Ivanivske and also by the fact that Russians are mostly shelling the tree lines between Bakhmut and Ivanivske.
The Head of the Wager Group, Prigozhin, made a video saying that today, after 224 days of continuous storming operations, the Battle for Bakhmut has ended. He admitted that Ukrainian fighters put up immense resistance and that in 5 days, he would transfer the responsibility for the region to the regular Russian army and withdraw to the deep rear to heal and replenish from the damage incurred. At this stage, we don’t know whether the Wagner Group will be allowed to withdraw or whether the Russian Ministry of Defense will once again threaten Prigozhin with charges of treason in case he leaves his position.
In any case, the first Battle for Bakhmut ended, and the most important question is what comes next. Now as Ukrainians have almost secured all tactical heights in front of Chasiv Yar, they can either continue the movement along the ridges to take Bakhmut into a pocket or stop here and conduct defensive operations.
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.