Social media videos showed Russian troops suffering heavy casualties in the area around Bakhmut, in the eastern region of Donetsk, even as they captured some territory, especially south of the city.
Some footage from Ukrainian military drones shows Russian troops being targeted with explosives dropped by drones in foxholes and trenches. Other videos from the ground showed the bodies of Russian soldiers littering the countryside.
A video taken by the Ukrainian military and posted on Telegram showed different weapon systems, including 155mm howitzers and mortars, being used in a coordinated attack on Russian positions. As can be seen in some of the videos, Russian positions are barely protected and exposed in open countryside.
Russian forces have been attacking the area around Bakhmut for months — and recently pushed forward with newly mobilized but inexperienced troops.
Some Russian forces – including those affiliated with Wagner’s group – appear to have made incremental advances, bringing a chain of small villages to the south of the city. On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that “due to the offensive actions of Russian troops, the settlement of Kurdivka in the Donetsk People’s Republic has been completely liberated from the Ukrainian armed forces.”
The Ministry of Defense had previously announced the capture of three other settlements – but all small villages.
What Ukraine is saying: Fighting continued in the area, the Ukrainians said, with Ukrainian troops destroying three ammunition depots, a mortar battery and “enemy manpower” during a combat mission near Kurdiumivka.
Ukrainians are apparently also suffering casualties, analysts say, as they are targeted by Russian artillery and tanks. The Ukrainian military said fighting continued in many areas around Bakhmut, but did not admit to losing any advantage.
The Ukrainian National Guard said that over the past week, troops repelled enemy attacks in the Donetsk region’s Bakhmut and Avdivka regions and “destroyed enemy ammunition depots, equipment and personnel.”
Its spokesman said that in the airstrike near the northeastern outskirts of Bakhmut, “the enemy lost 79 soldiers, 46 of whom were irretrievable.
A CNN team in nearby Kramatorsk reported hearing heavy artillery fire for most of Thursday.
In its latest analysis, the Institute for War Studies said Russia’s campaign around Bakhmut showed that “Russian forces have fundamentally failed to learn from previous high-casualty campaigns that focused on targets of limited operational or strategic significance.”