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Frontline report: Ukrainian forces thwart Russian assaults in Chasiv Yar

The elite Kraken Special Operations unit, deployed in the Canal District of Chasiv Yar, successfully repelled dozens of Russian attempts to capture the town, forcing the Russian invading forces to change their tactics.
Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video
Frontline report: Ukrainian forces thwart Russian assaults in Chasiv Yar

Day 817: 20 May

On 20 May, there were many updates from the Bakhmut direction. The most interesting updates come from the northern flank of Chasiv Yar. Here, the Ukrainians repelled head-on Russian assaults into the town and forced them to change their approach in an attempt to take it.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

In the last two weeks, this front section was stale, with minimal action from the Russians, which decided to hold all assaults with a brief operational pause. This was done to redeploy and accumulate forces for attacks to the north of the town from the direction of Bohdanivka and to the south from Ivanivske. This decision was made after Ukrainians deployed the elite Kraken Special Operations unit to the canal District of the town where the bulk of Russian assaults took place.

Kraken Fighters published a video from Chasiv Yar shortly after their deployment to the area. In the video, we can see the conditions that Kraken and other Canal District troops face. The Russian bombardment was not constant, so the Kraken and other troops relocated around the town in armored vehicles to their assigned firing positions. The troops that were moving on foot must exercise caution from Russian Artillery and drone strikes, so they must run fast in small groups to avoid being hit.

At times of heavy aerial bombardment and artillery shelling, basements of residential buildings are used as shelters for troops to wait out until it is over. We can also see a Kraken fighter firing an 84-shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon from a position in a high building. AT4 has an effective firing range of 300 M, implying that Russians managed to get close to Ukrainian positions during their assaults. At the same time, Ukrainian artillery and drone operators provide fire support to the forces in the Canal District, suppressing detected Russian Artillery and Troop concentrations. In videos published by the 43rd Artillery Brigade, we can see the counter-battery work of German-made papel hitter 2,000 against three Russian Artillery pieces, D20, D30, and a scarce heavy mortar Tilupa.

We could also see the destruction of a TOS thermobaric system. This is the most dangerous Russian Artillery system and is very scarce, so it is a high-priority target for the Ukrainians. As I said in previous reports, Russians had no success storming the front of the town in the Canal residential district, so they made an effort to destroy bridges over the canal. As a result of these operations, Russia managed to destroy two crossings, one in the town and one in the north. However, this only created a short-term supply shortage of heavy equipment as Ukrainians could fix the bridges quickly. In addition, there are many small makeshift bridges for infantry over the canal, so Ukrainian ground troops have no problem reinforcing the units in the Eastern Canal District.

After destroying the bridges over the canal and months of heavy bombardment, the Russians launched a powerful assault on the canal District in hopes of a breakthrough and takeover of the high-rise area. However, the assault group of six BMD infantry fighting Vehicles was quickly detected by drone operators of the Kraken regiment.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

The drones corrected the fire of the Kraken artillery detachments’ M7 artillery operators, which knocked out two out of six BMDs on the road to Chasiv Yar. A third of the assault group was destroyed, and only four BMDs loaded with infantry entered the town and dismounted infantry heading for the high-rise buildings. One of the BMDs was destroyed entirely by an accurate shot of the Kraken artillery detachment, killing everyone who was inside and leaving a burning rack. Subsequently, another BMD was damaged and disabled by precise artillery fire from artillery operators of Kraken, which led to its crew abandoning it.

Only two BMDs managed to get back to their leading positions, but one of them was yet again destroyed by an accurate artillery shot, leaving only one in six BMDs to return. A few dismounted infantrymen tried to take positions in the high-rise buildings but were quickly targeted and destroyed. As a result, the Kraken Special Forces Detachment successfully denied any Russian attempts to establish a foothold in the Canal District. Russians realized it was impossible to push the Kraken forces out of the Canal District or cut it off from supplies by strikes on the bridges.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

Therefore, they devised a new plan after two weeks of operational pause. Russians focused on the northern and southern flanks of the town to encircle the canal District by crossing the canal and moving the fight to the western part of the town. Russians could Advance deep into Chasiv Yar without capturing the problematic high-rise Canal District. Such flank attacks into the western part of the town would also threaten to cut off the district so Ukrainians would be forced to withdraw from it. The two directions of flank attacks are directed to parts of the Siversk Donetsk canal that go underground by a pipeline, so Russians would not need to cross the canal properly.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

The most intense clashes occurred on the southern flank, where Russians already had some established positions from which they would expand their Bridgehead. Here Russian started by pummeling the Ukrainian positions with TS thermobaric artillery systems, which not only inflict severe damage but also suck out the breathable error from the impact area to soften up Ukrainian defenses.

Due to Russian superiority in Firepower and the intensity of ground assaults, Ukrainians had to withdraw to more favorable positions.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

This gave the Russians control of a two-kilometer-long section of the canal, including the section with underground pipes. They could start assaulting the Canal’s other side from these positions, threatening the town’s western part. For now, the Russians only launched small reconnaissance operations across the canal because they were waiting for the offensive group at the northern flank to reach Canal 2.

On the Northern flank, the situation for the Ukrainians is much more stable. Russians are trying to take the village of Kalynivka to reach the underground Canal section for plant flank attack operations in this area. From the direction of Bohdanivka, Russians launched further assaults on Kalynivka, but since they were in the lowlands, all assaults were repelled.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

Ukrainians took advantage of Russian weakness caused by losses in the assault and launched a series of successful assaults towards Bohdanivka.

Ukrainian fighters from the 24th Mechanized Brigade published combat footage showing their counterattack. In the video, we can see that a few Russians returned to their positions after the failed assaults, leaving a few of them scared and hidden in their dugouts. Ukrainian Fighters used small arms fire and grenades to clear out the dugouts from suppressed Russian Fighters. During the cleaning operations, Ukrainian fighters even managed to destroy a few ammunition caches in the dugouts, simultaneously killing additional Russian troops. By the end of their cleaning operations, a single Russian soldier surrendered, likely because no one else survived. As a result of the successful counterattack, Ukrainians managed to enter the southern part of Bohdanivka yet again.

This is good for the Ukrainians because Russians will now have to struggle to regain these lost positions to assault Kalynivka again. Without that, they won’t be able to establish a bridgehead for further assaults on the northern flank.

Donetsk Oblast May 2024
Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video

To prevent Ukrainians from upper-cutting their bridgeheads from the canal District, Russians Advanced from the small forest and took up a few positions in residential areas of houses.

Russians also launched a series of minor assaults to the front of the town, including a turtle tank and two infantry fighting vehicles that unloaded infantry from positions in front of high-rise buildings. The high-rise building overlooking Russian positions in the area was so heavily damaged by bombings to the point it became less sustainable for defense, enabling Russian assault groups to land and take positions in front of it.

In other videos, we could see a Ukrainian tank firing at Russian positions in the Canal District, which confirms that Russians established positions there. Overall, thanks to fighters of the Kraken regiment, Ukrainians managed to repulse dozens of Russian assaults in the direction of Chasiv Yar, which completely changed the course of the battle for Chasiv Yar. As a result, the Russians had to change their plans and switch their focus to flank attacks around the town.

This only led to a similar situation, where Russians faced well-fortified Ukrainian positions in an advantageous elevated area of Kalynivka, putting their assaults on hold.

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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