Ukrainian troops reclaim a village near Bakhmut. It’s a small win in a churning counteroffensive
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces recaptured a war-ravaged settlement in the country’s embattled east, Kyiv’s military leaders said Friday, a small territorial win in a churning counteroffensive marked so far by small victories but no major breakthroughs.
The taking of the village of Andriivka, 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, underscores just how difficult Ukraine’s multipronged counteroffensive is shaping up to be.
In the east and the south, Ukraine is reporting minimal territorial gains after months of intense fighting and heavy losses. Despite being bolstered by NATO-standard weapons worth billions of dollars, Ukrainian military officials have said there are no quick solutions to puncture Russian defensive lines — only slow, grinding battles.
Ukraine’s strategy appears to be to spread Russian forces thin across multiple directions along the front line, from vast agricultural tracts in the east to the Dnieper River, which marks the line of contact in the south, in hopes that Ukrainian troops can exploit their opponents’ vulnerabilities.
In the northeast, Russian forces are staging their own offensive, seeking to pin Ukrainian forces and distract them from fighting elsewhere.
Three months of intense fighting finally wore down Russian forces in Andriivka, a tiny patch along the sprawling front, allowing Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade to make a lightning move to encircle Russian forces.
The recapture of Andriivka comes weeks after an important tactical victory for Ukrainian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where they punctured through Russia’s first line of defense and took back the village of Robotyne.
The win, announced in late August, came after Ukrainian forces advanced just 7 kilometers (about 4 miles) after intense fighting that started in June.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces announced the reclaiming of Andriivka early Friday. There was no confirmation or comment from Russia authorities.
The 3rd Assault Brigade said it took Andriivka after surrounding the Russian garrison in the village during what it described as a “lightning operation” and destroying it over two days. It called the success a breakthrough on the southern flank of Bakhmut and “key to success in all further directions.”
At best, the recapture of Andriivka, which had a prewar population of under 100, allows Ukrainian forces to maneuver with greater ease around Bakhmut, a city known for salt mining that is now in complete ruins.