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UK intel: Russia plans to bypass Vuhledar defenses amid heavy losses, after capturing Donetsk’s Novomykhailivka

The Russian military is planning strategic advances west from Novomykhailivka and aims to bypass the heavily defended Vuhledar, seeking to reduce its high casualties.
Russian armored vehicle being destroyed near Novomykhailivka. Screenshot from a video by Ukraine’s 79th Brigade via TSN.
UK intel: Russia plans to bypass Vuhledar defenses amid heavy losses, after capturing Donetsk’s Novomykhailivka

In its 23 April intelligence update, the UK Defense Ministry says that in southern Donetsk Oblast, the Russian forces are plotting advances further west from Novomykhailivka in an effort to reduce casualties by circumventing the fortified defenses of Vuhledar.

Situation southwest of occupied Donetsk as of 23 April 2024. Map: Deepstatemap

The ministry wrote:

  • On 22 April, the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed their forces had taken control of Novmykhalivka. The town is situated south of Marinka and north-east of Vulhedar, Donetsk. Novomykhalivka, has limited military strategic significance but lies on roads to further settlements that straddle both sides of the [Sukhi Yaly] river in southern Donetsk.
  • Russian forces reportedly entered the town on 9 February 2024, and reached the middle of the town by 24 March. The 79th Separate Air Assault Tavriia Brigade reportedly stated this required a force of 30,000 Russian personnel, with a loss of 300 pieces of equipment in the six months of fighting on the approach to the town.
  • From entering to clearing the town, a total distance of under 5km, took Russian forces 73 days. That was with the benefit of additional operational reserves. This demonstrates the slow but incremental advances Russian forces are making. On this axis, Russian forces will likely seek to advance towards the town of Kostyantynivka (not to be confused with Kostiantynivka west of Bakhmut, – Ed.), 2km west from Novomykhalivka.
  • Further advances north of Vulhedar could eventually allow Vulhedar’s defences to be bypassed. Those defences have caused extremely high casualties for Russian ground forces.

On 22 April, following the Russian claim on the fall of Novomykhailivka, Yevhen Shamataliuk, commander of Ukraine’s 79th Separate Air Assault Brigade, told TSN that Ukrainian troops were still in control of 15-20% of the settlement.

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