Ukraine scored another victory recently when it recently recaptured village Klishchiivka that lies in the southern flank of Bakhmut, as its forces fought off Russian attempts to get back into the area.
The war-torn country’s forces had last week also recaptured Andriivka, another village a few kilometres to the south of Klishchiivka, after earlier criticism alleged Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces had slowed.
Both settlements have been reduced to ghost towns and destroyed in the months of fighting for Bakhmut that had fallen into Russian hands in May this year.
“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.
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday lauded his troops.
“Today I would like to particularly commend the soldiers who, step by step, are returning to Ukraine what belongs to it, namely in the area of Bakhmut,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address.
He thanked the successful units – the 80th airborne assault brigade, the 5th assault brigade, the “glorious 95th” and a national police assault brigade – in the address.
Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said, “Ukraine always gets its own back”.
Deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar confirmed the recapture on Sunday and posted a video of Ukrainian forces displaying the national flag on ruined buildings even as the fighting could be heard in the background.
She said Russian forces were still trying to regain lost positions in the region despite losing out on the territorial fight over the control of the village.
“Today we had to fight off enemy’s attacks all day,” she said.
Klishchiivka had a pre-war population of around 400 and falls 9km south of Bakhmut.
The country’s military analysts said liberation of settlements near Bakhmut will propel Ukraine’s forces to advance from the southern flank in the Bakhmut, and give them control of the heights in the region.
The Institute for the Study of War cited geolocated footage shared by Ukrainian officials and said the recapture was of “strategic significance”.
“The liberation of Klishchiivka, as well as continued Ukrainian tactical gains northwest of Bakhmut, are tactical gains of strategic significance because they are allowing Ukrainian forces to fix a considerable portion of Russian airborne (VDV) elements in the Bakhmut area,” the US based think-tank said.
Meanwhile, explosions were heard in Sevastopol and smoke was seen rising from a prominent landmark just kilometres away from the Crimean city as Ukrainian forces announced they were carrying out a joint intelligence operation in the region illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
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