Social media videos indicate that Russian troops in the areas around Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region are taking 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 videos at ground level show the bodies of Russian soldiers littering the countryside.
One video shot by the Ukrainian military and published on Telegram shows different weapons systems being used in a coordinated attack on Russian positions, including 155 mm Howitzers and mortars. It appears from some videos that Russian positions have little protection and are exposed in open countryside.
Russian forces have been attacking the area around Bakhmut for months — and more recently have sent newly mobilized but less experienced units forward.
Some Russian units — including those affiliated with the Wagner group — appear to have made incremental progress, taking a string of small villages to the south of the city. On Thursday the Russian Ministry of Defense said that, “as a result of the offensive actions of the Russian troops, the settlement of Kurdyumivka 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 all are small villages.
What Ukraine says: Ukrainians say fighting continues in the area, and that during combat missions near Kurdiumivka, Ukrainian forces destroyed three ammunition depots, one mortar crew “and manpower of the enemy.”
Analysts say the Ukrainians are also clearly taking casualties as they are targeted by Russian artillery and tanks. The Ukrainian military has said that fighting continues in several areas close to Bakhmut but has not acknowledged losing any ground.
The Ukrainian National Guard said that over the past week, units had repelled enemy attacks in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka sectors of Donetsk and “destroyed ammunition depots, equipment and personnel of the enemy.”
Its spokesman said that in strikes near the northeastern outskirts of Bakhmut, “the enemy’s losses amounted to 79 servicemen, of which 46 were irrecoverable.
A CNN team 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 the Russian campaign around Bakhmut indicates “that Russian forces have fundamentally failed to learn from previous high-casualty campaigns concentrated on objectives of limited operational or strategic significance.”