The counteroffensive advances continue to be slow going but they are happening. Yesterday, Ukraine took a small village which is just south of the flattened city of Bakhmut.
The village, Klishchiivka, had been under Russian control since January and is the second settlement in the area to come back under Kyiv’s control in three days. It sits on high ground overlooking roadways in and out of Bakhmut, which Moscow’s forces captured in May.
The retaking of Klishchiivka may help Ukraine apply pressure to the Russian forces holding Bakhmut, which Moscow has devoted resources to defending even though it has been reduced to rubble. The village, about six miles south of Bakhmut holds a commanding position that could allow Ukrainian artillery to more accurately shell Russian forces entering or exiting the city….
…on Sunday evening, the 80th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade posted a video of soldiers holding the yellow-and-blue flag of Ukraine in front of a ruined building and a destroyed church as booms echoed.
Here’s a map showing the location of the village (the top yellow box).
⚡️🇷🇺Russian sources write that they were forced to leave Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the direction of Bakhmut.
Probably, the Armed Forces of 🇺🇦Ukraine liberated these two settlements. We are waiting for official information from the General Staff of Ukraine pic.twitter.com/USnN0KZq53
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) September 13, 2023
The soldiers who took the village posted a video in front of what is left of the local church.
Klishchiivka has been liberated by Ukrainian forces!
In the video, soldiers from the brigades that took part in the liberation confirm this. They stay near the church right in Klishchiivka. The consequences of the Russian world’s arrival in all its glory. As of 2001, about 500… pic.twitter.com/YoVy1ujSFx
— Saint Javelin (@saintjavelin) September 17, 2023
A Ukrainian military spokesperson explained why taking this village will matter:
“Now we have gained a springboard for ourselves, which in the future will allow us to continue to develop offensive operations and liberate our land from the invaders,” Illia Yevlash, spokesperson for Ukraine’s troops in the east, said in a national telecast after they retook Klishchiivka.
The battle inflicted “powerful damage” on many Russian-led units, he said. These included airborne units, the “Akhmat” battalion of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Storm-Z military units comprising Russian criminals, the Russian General Staff’s military intelligence and motorised rifle units.
Mr Yevlash said the recapture of Klishchiivka will help Ukraine fire deeper and precise strikes on Russian targets in the Donetsk region, several kilometres south of Bakhmut.
“In addition, this exposure of the flanks, in particular the southern flank, will allow us to further move more conveniently into the depths of the enemy’s positions and deliver more accurate and deeper strikes using various artillery systems, FPV drones and other available weapons,” the official said.
President Zelenskyy congratulated them on their success.
Klishchiivka. I thank our warriors for liberating our land.
The 80th Air Assault, 5th Assault, and the renowned 95th Air Assault brigades, as well as the National Police’s “Fury” Assault Brigade.
I thank everyone who is standing strong from Kupiansk to the left bank of Kherson! pic.twitter.com/ZkLakPhMOH
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 17, 2023
The successes in and around Bakhmut have accomplished two things. The first, as mentioned above, is doing serious damage to some of Russia’s best soldiers. That appears to be confirmed in this statement from a former Russian commander.
Lieutenant Colonel Roman Venevitin, former commander of the Russian 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade that got wrecked near Klishchiivka and Andriivka, calls the brigade losses ‘very serious’, while calling it betrayal to sent soldiers to the front untrained and unprovided. pic.twitter.com/LDuLXlCC0e
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) September 18, 2023
Here’s the translation of his statement: “I am tormented by the thought—what went wrong in this war?” he says.
The other thing that the fighting near Bakhmut has done is forced Russia to defend this flattened town because it would be a major PR loss if they were to lose it. The Institute for the Study of War wrote about that today.
Ukrainian forces’ sustained operations in Bakhmut since spring 2023 have successfully fixed a large portion of Russia’s VDV forces and have thus increased Ukraine’s chances of operational success on the southern frontline by preventing the creation of a VDV reserve there. Sustained Ukrainian combat operations near Bakhmut since December 2022 have fixed elements of two of Russia’s four VDV divisions and three of the VDV’s four independent brigades. This is a significant achievement. The VDV is Russia’s principal expeditionary force and Russia’s highest mobility combat force. Ukrainian activity near Bakhmut has attritted these VDV elements, deprived them of opportunities to regroup and refit, and have prevented the Russian command from using them to form a high mobility operational reserve to defend the southern front. The concentration of any significant proportion of these VDV units in the Robotyne area would likely have made Ukrainian penetration of the lines there impossible…
The Ukrainians took advantage of Russia’s fixation with the operationally insignificant town of Bakhmut to draw the highest-quality mobile Russian reserves there first to complete the Russian seizure of the town and then to hold it against Ukrainian counter-offensive operations that began almost as soon as Wagner forces pulled back.
Russia has a large front to defend and their inability to redeploy some of their best troops to areas like Robotyne is giving Ukraine a real chance to get through those lines of defense.