- Ukrainian soldiers retook two villages south of Bakhmut inside eastern Ukraine, a think tank said.
- The attacks inflicted ‘severe’ damage to Russian troops, The Institute for the Study of War said.
- It followed Ukraine’s breaches along several fronts in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops’ recapture of two villages near the front lines has “severely degraded” defensive Russian forces on the frontlines, according to a report by a think tank.
According to the respected Institute for the Study of War, citing Ukrainian military officials, Ukrainian troops breached a strategic defensive line that Russian forces tried to hold onto in the area south of Bakhmut.
In doing so it defeated three Russian brigades, the report said.
The Ukrainian recapture of the villages — Klishchiivka and Andriivka — likely left Russian forces battle-worn and less able to fight.
The forces “will likely struggle to replenish their combat strength and defend against any further Ukrainian offensive activity”, the ISW said.
In the neighboring Zaporizhzhia region, the ISW said Russian forces also likely suffered heavy losses and retreated to a second line of defense, where they could use artillery to fire on advancing Ukrainian troops.
The ISW said it was unable to independently verify the strength and extent of Russian defensive lines or observe the degree of deterioration among the mentioned Russian units.
Ukraine’s advances into new villages was the latest example of its steady but costly progress in the months-long counteroffensive.
Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive got off to a slow start on June 4, prompting concerns over its strategy and pace.
But since late August, Ukrainian forces appear to have made steady and slow gains, with breakthroughs along Russia’s first line of defense on the southern frontline, the ISW said, despite complex Russian defenses, including dense minefields and fortifications.
However, cold and wet weather later this year will hold up the counteroffensive, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, told Reuters.
US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the same point, telling BBC News that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has less than 30 days before the weather disrupts military operations.
“There’s still a reasonable amount of time, probably about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left, so the Ukrainians aren’t done,” Gen. Milley told the outlet.
Ukrainian forces are now working on breaching the second line, Michael Kofman, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Kyiv Independent.
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