Ukrainian commandos are preparing a Bakhmut battle
CHASIV YAR (UKRAINE) – The leader of a Ukrainian commando unit crouches in a small forest briefing his troops ahead of their mission to counter the Russian offensive to capture the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
The special forces want to defend the nearby village of Grygorivka in the Donetsk region, about 10 kilometers northwest of Bakhmut, which is under heavy Russian fire.
If Moscow’s soldiers and the Russian mercenary group Wagner took the village, it would help them close pincers around Bakhmut, the center of the invasion’s longest and bloodiest battle.
“We are defending positions on the high ground near the village. Our mission is to stop the enemy attack and support our infantry with artillery,” the commando chief told AFP, without giving his name.
The elite troops are dressed in rain jackets and helmets and carry small camouflage backpacks. They are armed with TAR-21 assault rifles – an Israeli weapon design manufactured under license in Ukraine.
Hardly any silence lasts more than 10 seconds near Bakhmut. Ukrainian artillery and powerful, heavy hits from nearby Russian shells rang out constantly.
Just a few kilometers west of Grygorivka, near the front line, Ukrainian forces repelled “numerous enemy attacks” on the villages of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Bogdanivka, the Ukrainian General Staff said Thursday morning.
– ‘Difficult situation’ –
“The situation is difficult, but we have it under control,” says the 45-year-old commando chief during a pause between shells that explode a few hundred meters away.
“We can fight, that’s for sure, but the enemy always has the advantage in terms of artillery. We’re taking casualties because of their massive amount of artillery. That’s why we have to go back, but sometimes we advance, ”says the official.
“They are trying to take Bogdanivka and then Chasiv Yar to close the pocket around Bakhmut,” he adds.
Chasiv Yar, a small town immediately west of Bakhmut, is also now under threat from Russian forces closing their pincers.
This week, white phosphorus ammunition was fired from Russian positions at Chasiv Yar, setting fire to vegetation in an uninhabited area.
In early January, Russian forces blocked the highway connecting Bakhmut with Sloviansk — a major regional hub near the town of Kramatorsk — and the front has since stabilized.
In the small town of Pryvillya, about two kilometers from the front lines, a soldier calling himself “Romeo” and commanding a Ukrainian post says: “We are holding this position.”
The Russians “have been pushing for about a week now. They push towards Bakhmut. That’s their priority,” he told AFP.
– Assault Drone –
Here the artillery is quieter, and the main activity is drones.
Max, 40, a drone operator nicknamed “Aerobomber,” sits alone in his truck by the side of the road, holding a remote control, his eyes glued to a screen.
He just launched a small drone loaded with a hand grenade. The drone flies toward a forest about six kilometers from Russian positions.
The landscape below is clearly visible on the screen. The drone reaches the forest and hovers about 20 meters above the ground.
But shortly before the finish, Max loses control. The drone drops the grenade and misses.
The Russians “encrypt the drone, cutting the signal between the drone and the remote control,” he says.
“When the drone loses control, it goes down and they shoot at it,” explains the operator, after managing to recover his drone with scratches from bullets.
He says he lost three drones the day before, bringing the total to 62 since the invasion began.
“Russia has been preparing for this war for a long time, developing its electronic combat troops,” says Zyma, or Winter, the head of a unit of drone operators in southern Ukraine.
Russians use various techniques to drown out the signal to the drone or create a false signal that misleads it, he says.
“Each of us does what we can, where we can. Everyone tries to be as effective as possible. This technology allows us to target (kill) 10 Orcs (Russians) per day,” says the “Aerobomber.”
“I feel good because I see the results of my work. I can use my time and ammo very efficiently. That makes me happy,” he adds.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch