Social media videos show Russian troops taking heavy losses in the Bakhmut areas of eastern Donetsk region, even as they hold some territory, especially in the south of the city.
Some videos from Ukrainian military drones show Russian troops in foxholes and trenches being targeted by drone-dropped explosive charges. Other videos show bodies of Russian soldiers littering the countryside at ground level.
One video, shot by the Ukrainian military and posted on Telegram, shows a coordinated attack on Russian positions using various weapon systems, including 155 mm howitzers and mortars. Some of the videos show that Russian positions have little defense and are exposed in open fields.
Russian forces have been on the offensive for months around Bakhmut, and more recently have sent newly mobilized but less experienced units forward.
Some Russian units, including those associated with Wagner’s group, appear to have made progress in capturing a series of small villages south of the city. On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that “as a result of the offensive action of the Russian troops, the Kurdiumivka settlement of the Donetsk People’s Republic was completely liberated from the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
The Ministry of Defense had previously announced the capture of three other settlements, but they are all small villages.
What Ukraine says: Ukrainians say that fighting continues in the area and that during combat missions near Kurdiumivka, Ukrainian forces destroyed three ammunition depots, one mortar crew “and enemy manpower”.
Analysts say Ukrainians are also clearly taking casualties as Russian artillery and tanks target them. The Ukrainian military has said that fighting continues in many areas near Bakhmut, but has not admitted that it has lost ground.
The National Guard of Ukraine announced that over the past week, units have repelled enemy attacks in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka sectors of Donetsk and “destroyed enemy ammunition depots, equipment and personnel.”
Its spokesman said that in the strikes near the northeastern outskirts of Bakhmut, “enemy losses amounted to 79 soldiers, 46 of whom were irrecoverable.
A CNN crew in nearby Kramatorsk reported hearing heavy artillery exchanges for much of Thursday.
In its latest analysis, the Institute for the Study of War says that Russia’s campaign around Bakhmut indicates that “Russian forces have largely failed to learn from previous high-casualty campaigns by focusing on targets of limited operational or strategic importance.”