Ukraine said it repelled a day of Russian attacks in and around Bakhmut on Thursday, making small gains while buying time for other “planned actions”.
While Russia was beefing up its forces in the city and attacking northern and southern suburbs, Ukrainian forces advanced by up to a kilometer, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on her Telegram channel.
“The defense of Bakhmut and its outskirts corresponds to its military objectives,” she said. “From now on we control the southwestern part of Bakhmut.”
This comes after Russia unleashed another round of fierce night attacks on Ukraine in the latest test of Kiev’s air defenses.
Ukraine claimed it managed to shoot down 29 rockets out of 30 launched across the country in the early hours of Thursday. According to Serhiy Brachuk, a spokesman for the region’s military administration, the single missile that escaped Ukraine’s steel defenses and struck an industrial building in the southern Odessa region killed one person and injured two others.
Loud explosions rang out across Kiev as Vladimir Putin’s forces bombed the capital for the ninth time this month, in a drastic escalation after weeks of lull. Debris also fell on two districts of Kiev, sparking a fire at a garage complex.
The missiles were fired from Russian sea, air and ground bases, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s supreme commander, wrote on Telegram. Multiple waves of rockets were fired at areas in Ukraine between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 a.m. Thursday, he added.
Russian forces used strategic bombers from the Caspian region and apparently fired X-101 and X-55 missiles developed during Soviet times, Kiev authorities said. Russia then deployed reconnaissance drones over the capital.
In the last major airstrike on Kiev on Tuesday, Ukrainian air defenses, reinforced by sophisticated Western-supplied systems, shot down all incoming missiles, officials said.
This attack used hypersonic missiles, which the Russian President has repeatedly touted as a key strategic advantage. The missiles are among the most advanced weapons in the Russian arsenal, and their hypersonic speed and maneuverability make them difficult to detect and intercept.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group — often referred to as Putin’s private army — threw in another blow to the Russian advance on Thursday, accusing regular Russian army units of retreating 570 meters north of the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut and abandoning his troops to the flanks of your own fighters are exposed.
Wagner forces, with some support from the regular army, spearheaded the assault on Bakhmut in recent months, one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the war.
Prigozhin urged Moscow to do everything possible to protect its territory in Bakhmut after he allegedly withdrew.
“I am publicly appealing to the top leadership of the Defense Ministry because my letters are not being read,” Prigozhin said in a voice message
Ukrainian officials have signaled that the advances around Bakhmut are not part of a broader counteroffensive Kiev has planned to push back Russian forces.
With Prigozhin repeatedly accusing top Russian military officials of not doing enough to support his men and reports of unrest in the rest of the Russian leader’s inner circle, the Kremlin seems to have cause for concern.
According to a recent update from the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), Russia has banned its own top officials from resigning to avoid “any impression of defeatism”.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report