Ukraine retakes village south of Bakhmut, military says
PHOTO CAPTION: Servicemen of Ukraine's 3rd Separate Assault Brigade prepare to conduct a reconnaissance mission, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Bakhmut, Ukraine September 7, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
By Tom Balmforth and Anna Pruchnicka
KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine said on Friday it had recaptured the devastated eastern village of Andriivka, setting the stage for further advances on the southern flank of Bakhmut, the city that fell into Russian hands in May after months of heavy fighting.
Kyiv's troops were securing their foothold in the area, while Russian forces suffered significant casualties and lost equipment, the Ukrainian General Staff said in a morning report. There was no immediate comment from Russia.
"In the course of assault operations, they seized Andriivka in Donetsk region," the General Staff said.
The village of Andriivka lies south of Bakhmut, the site of the fiercest and longest battle since the invasion by Russia in February last year. The General Staff also reported "partial success" near Klishchiivka, a village also south of Bakhmut.
"Capturing and holding Andriivka - is our path to a breakthrough on the right flank of Bakhmut and the key to the success of the entire further offensive," said the Third Assault Brigade, which took part in the push.
Ukraine advanced cautiously in the area to minimise losses from mines and "very active" Russian defences, brigade spokesman Oleksandr Borodin said.
"They defend their flanks very heavily here because they understand if (their) flank falls completely it will create direct problems to hold the city (Bakhmut) itself," he said.
"There is no Andriivka left per se,... but as a place, as a square, it is an important square," he said in televised comments.
The village lies on higher ground which will allow Ukrainian artillery to operate more easily in the area, said Kyiv-based military analyst Oleksandr Musiyenko.
During its three-month-old counteroffensive, Ukraine has reported slow, steady progress against entrenched Russian positions, retaking a string of villages and advancing on the flanks of Bakhmut, but taking no major settlements.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials have dismissed Western critics who say the offensive is too slow and hampered by strategic errors.
Further south in Donetsk region, Ukrainian troops continued to hold back a Russian offensive towards the towns of Avdiivka and Maryinka, General Staff spokesman Andriy Kovaliov said in televised comments. He said the defenders had managed to repel all Russian attacks near Maryinka.
On the southern front, the General Staff said its troops were inflicting substantial losses on the enemy near the village of Verbove in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.
(Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Timothy Heritage)