Videos on social media indicate that Russian forces in the areas around Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region are suffering heavy casualties, even as they take some territory, especially south of the city.
Some videos from Ukrainian military drones show Russian troops in foxholes and trenches being targeted by explosive charges dropped from the drones. Other ground-level videos show the bodies of Russian soldiers lying around in the countryside.
A video shot by the Ukrainian military and published on Telegram shows several weapon systems used in a coordinated attack on Russian positions, including 155mm howitzers and mortars. Some videos show Russian positions having little protection and being exposed in the open countryside.
Russian troops have been attacking the area around Bakhmut for months – and more recently have been sending newly mobilized but less experienced units forward.
Some Russian units – including those of the Wagner group – seem to have made incremental progress, capturing a series of small villages south of the city. On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that “as a result of the offensive actions 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 Defense Ministry had previously announced the capture of three other settlements, but they are all small villages.
What Ukraine says: Ukrainians say fighting continues in the area and Ukrainian forces destroyed three ammunition depots, a mortar crew and enemy manpower during combat missions near Kurdiumivka.
Analysts say the Ukrainians are also clearly taking casualties as they are targeted by Russian artillery and tanks. The Ukrainian army has said fighting continues in many areas near Bakhmut, but has not admitted to losing ground.
The Ukrainian National Guard said units had repelled enemy attacks in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka sectors of the Donetsk region over the past week and had “destroyed ammunition depots, equipment and personnel of the enemy”.
The spokesman said that in attacks near Bakhmut’s northeastern suburbs, “enemy casualties amounted to 79 servicemen, 46 of which were irrecoverable.
A CNN team in nearby Kramatorsk reported hearing much of Thursday’s heavy artillery exchanges.
In its latest analysis, the Institute for the Study of War says the Russian campaign around Bakhmut indicates “that Russian forces fundamentally failed to learn from previous high-casuality campaigns that targeted targets of limited operational or strategic significance.”