In Ukraine’s east, Ukrainian forces launched successful attacks and gained ground north of Soledar in the Bakhmut sector, Donetsk Oblast, securing a bridgehead and undermining Russian defenses in the area. This new axis of attack further intensifies the pressure on Russian forces in the area, posing a significant threat to their control over Soledar and Bakhmut.[/editorial]
Day 505: 13 July
Today there are a lot of updates from the east.
Here, Ukrainians finally opened the third axis of attack, assaulted Soledar’s northern flank, and advanced by more than 2 km (two other axes – north and south of Bakhmut City – are in the west of the Bakhmut sector, – Ed.). Last time I told you that Ukrainians had gathered a powerful group of forces in this region, whose main goal was to slice off the bridgehead that Russian forces developed west of Soledar and set conditions for the encirclement of Soledar and Bakhmut.
The elements of Ukraine’s 54th Mechanized Brigade conducted the first attack. Since Russians were controlling the hills, they managed to identify Ukrainian forces well ahead, which is why Ukrainians faced Russian artillery fire while barely reaching Rozdolivka. The assault unit consisted of six armored cars with the support of drone operators. Halfway there, Russians started firing anti-tank-guided missiles at the Ukrainian column. Soon, a multiple-launch rocket system, Grad, made a salvo. Nonetheless, all cars remained intact.
After reaching the lake, the Ukrainian assault unit did the first split, and one group of soldiers assaulted the first Russian positions while all others continued movement towards the tree line. The tree line is 1.8 km long and has multiple strong points, each of which must be assaulted and taken. The Ukrainian assault unit suppressed the enemy fire with machine guns and dropped off some troops to the trenches while others moved on to assault the next one. Soon, Ukrainians reached the last Russian position in this tree line and successfully assumed control over the strong point, while all cars immediately withdrew to escape the enemy artillery fire.
The second attack was conducted slightly west of the previous one and was highly successful. As a result, Ukrainians established a 4 km wide and 2.5 km deep bridgehead, undermining Russian defenses in Yakovlivka. And this is not surprising because Yakovlivka is the most important settlement in the region. If we look at the topographic map, we can see that Yakovlivka is located on the hill, and even though it is not exactly located on the ridge, it is located high enough to determine who controls the whole region. As we can see, Ukrainians established several toeholds that secure them access to the local heights and allow them to assault the next Russian defenses on the line from a strong position.
Simultaneously, by developing this bridgehead, Ukrainians put Russians in Mykolaivka and Krasnopolivka in operational encirclement because now they control all the roads that connect them to the mainland. In fact, geolocated combat footage confirms that Ukrainians are already destroying Russian forces that are getting in as well as out of the salient with ATGMs. Ukrainians also managed to shoot down a Russian helicopter in this region that tried to provide Russian forces with at least some relief.
Interestingly, so far, the situation has developed precisely as the Head of the Wagner Group, Prigozhin, predicted a while ago. Prigozhin said that Ukrainians would definitely open an attack vector along the heights north of Soledar to create an additional point of pressure, making the situation extremely dangerous for the Russian forces. That is why Prigozhin wanted to escape from here as soon as possible.
Recently, the Wagner Group finished transferring all of the equipment that they promised to give up, conditional on the peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Wagner coup is still considered a mystery, as it is unclear whether Wagner’s troops gradually changed their mind, seeing no physical support for their actions from the regular forces, or whether it was entirely something else. But one thing is clear – those generals that were on good terms with Prigozhin were further alienated and discarded, such as the former commander of the entire so-called special military operation, Surovikin. Some sources speculate that he betrayed the Russian Ministry of Defense by secretly supporting Wagner and hoping to become the Minister of Defense. Other sources take a milder view by assuming that the Russian Ministry of Defense cannot take risks and trust anyone who is in any way affiliated with the Wagner Group. The bottom line is clear – Surovikin disappeared from the public eye, currently, he does not represent the Russian Air Force, and all people who know him closely unconvincingly say that he is on vacation. I remind you that Surovikin is the only commander of the so-called special military operation that actually achieved some results. So far, everything indicates that his vacation is going to be perpetual.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.
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