The use of heavy weapons supplied by the West in the fierce battle raging on the outskirts of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russia in May, is inflicting a significant toll on enemy lines, Ukrainian commanders have said.
Buoyed after the capture last week of the key village of Klishchiivka, Ukrainian troops have lauded the 155 millimetre howitzers as key equipment being provided by the United States and its NATO allies.
Unit commander Oleksandr said Ukraine’s armed forces “very much rely” on heavy artillery, including the Polish-made Krab gun and the US-made M109 self-propelled howitzer.
— Kvist.P????? (@kvistp) April 23, 2023
“Even one gun can completely turn the situation around. An attack can be stopped with one such gun,” he said.
“The main thing is to aim where needed. They (the Russians) hate our hardware. That’s what we gather from our intercepts. We hear that we keep giving them hell and they keep wondering how much ammunition we have left.”
Oleksandr, 30, described Klishchiivka – a village on the heights south of the devastated town of Bakhmut – as “one of the places they (the Russians) were clinging to.”
“We will see what’s next. We will develop our success,” he said.
Ukrainian commanders have described the capture of Klischiivka and nearby Andriivka as stepping stones to taking back Bakhmut, which fell to the Russians after months of some of the war’s heaviest fighting.
The gains have been among the most significant in Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which began in June and has struggled to break through entrenched Russian lines.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and senior officials have hailed the advances and rejected criticism in the West that the counteroffensive is progressing too slowly.
At least one Ukrainian missile struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday (22 September), and a major cyberattack interrupted internet services on the peninsula, Russian-installed officials said.
Russia’s defence ministry said one serviceman was missing after the attack, revising its earlier statement that the man had been killed. Air defences had downed a total of five missiles, the ministry said.
Ukraine’s military confirmed it had attacked the Russian Black Sea fleet’s headquarters, but gave few details.
“On 22 September close to 12:00 (0900 GMT) Ukraine’s defence forces successfully struck the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet command in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol,” it said on the Telegram messaging app.
The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, reported that emergency services had brought a fire in the building under control.
“But an equally important stage of work is now actively under way – the pouring of water on sections of the building and dismantling damaged structures,” he wrote on Telegram.
Razvozhayev said some nearby roads could remain closed during this work. He also said that Sevastopol residents gathered in the streets, singing the Russian national anthem.
“Today showed that nothing can break Sevastopol,” he wrote. “And the most beautiful thing about this is that this event was spontaneous.”
Razvozhayev had earlier said there were no civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure in his account of the missile strike posted on Telegram.
Ukraine has intensified attacks in the Black Sea and Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, as Ukrainian forces press on with a nearly four-month-old counteroffensive to regain Russian-occupied territory.
A Ukrainian intelligence chief stated that the September 22 Ukrainian strike on the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) Command headquarters in #Sevastopol, occupied #Crimea, injured senior Russian commanders. Satellite imagery published by @planet on September 22 showing the BSF… https://t.co/zFpKFVoT0q pic.twitter.com/PFeSsSp7BC
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) September 24, 2023
Ukrainian officials have described attacks on Russian military targets in Russian-held territory as legitimate.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council said there were two options for the future of the Russia’s Black Sea fleet – voluntary or forced “self-neutralisation”.
If it did not choose the voluntary option, it “will be sliced up like a salami,” he said on X.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Crimea “will definitely be demilitarized and liberated”. Moscow says it will never give up the peninsula.
Russian-installed authorities said air defences downed another missile on Friday near the town of Bakhchysarai.
Separately, Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Crimea head Sergei Aksyonov, said internet service providers on the peninsula were under an “unprecedented cyberattack”, leading to interruptions in service.
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