around Bakhmout, the difficult counter-offensive of the Ukrainian soldiers

Not a day goes by without the Ukrainian mobile artillery unit to which Private Serhiy Gnezdilov belongs being called in to fire rockets at the Russian forces positioned north of the town of Bakhmout. “It happens that we are sent five times a day”, says the young 23-year-old soldier of a motorized brigade, on his return from his first outing of the day.

An hour and a half earlier, at dawn on Friday July 23, he and other soldiers had taken to the road in a pick-up truck nicknamed “mobile nightmare” in the rear of which an anti-tank gun was mounted. The objective of the mission was to get within two kilometers of the enemy lines in order to fire a few rockets at a position, a group of soldiers around a heavy machine gun; a perilous task, as the Russian bombardments are intensive, but which ended in success, says Serhiy Gnezdilov again with his good-natured air.

For the soldiers of this unit deployed in the Bakhmout sector since February, the objective of these outings is to “harassing and tiring” enemy forces,” says Serhiy Gnezdilov. “We are preparing for the great battle”, says the soldier again, certain that his country’s army will manage to recover the town captured by the Wagner private militia on May 20, after ten months of fierce fighting. In fact, since the beginning of May, Ukrainian forces have been advancing and recovering pieces of territory on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmout.

Read also: War in Ukraine, live: At least three people killed in a Russian strike on Zaporizhia, according to Volodymyr Zelensky

“Everyone expected the counter-offensive to start from the south, explains in a calm tone Andryi Bloschinsky, nom de guerre “Nuts”, a section commander of the third assault brigade met in a cafe in Kostiantynivka, a town in the sector. But this is where it started. » At dawn on May 6, he and his men were among the first to break through the Russian positions deployed on the southern flank of Bakhmout with the help of a barrage of Ukrainian artillery fire. “We were advancing with groups of sixteen people, says Andryi Bloschinsky. While one group advanced, the other stayed behind to cover it with fire. »

On the left, Andryi Bloschinsky known as “Nuts”, platoon commander of the third Ukrainian assault brigade.  On the right, Volodymyr Skorobagatch known as
Mobile gunners from a Ukrainian motorized brigade position themselves to fire rockets at Russian machine gun operators, north of Bakhmout, Ukraine, July 23, 2023.

At 1 p.m., eight hours after the launch of the assault, the soldiers of the third brigade had already achieved the feat of advancing from “2.7 kilometers”, he says. That’s half a day for “to recover positions that Wagner had taken months to take”, specifies the young soldier with a mocking smile. “The Russians were running away, adds Volodymyr Skorobagatch, nom de guerre “BBC”, group commander within the same brigade. We were pushing so hard pulling without stopping. They couldn’t hold on. »

You have 70.74% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

source site-29