After weeks of heavy fighting and repeated losses of positions in the embattled city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian units have made major territorial gains for the first time. The hitherto successful Russian mercenary troop Wagner is getting more and more into trouble, as its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted on Wednesday evening. His fighters are in acute danger of being encircled.
According to its own statements, the Ukrainian army has pushed back the Russian troops near Bakhmut in places. "We are conducting effective counterattacks there," Ukrainian army commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Telegram on Wednesday evening. On some sections of the front of the city in eastern Ukraine, which has been heavily contested for months, Russian troops have retreated by up to two kilometers.
According to Syrskyj's account, the Wagner battle units deployed at Bakhmut have been replaced in some sections by regular Russian army units. These less well-trained units have now been defeated, Syrskyj said. However, the battle for Bakhmut continues.
Initially, it was not possible to independently verify the information provided by the Ukrainian military about their successes.
Prigozhin fears encirclement near Bakhmut
The head of the mercenary troop Wagner fears an encirclement of his unit in the battles for Bakhmut. "In view of the lack of ammunition, the 'meat grinder' now threatens to turn in the opposite direction," Prigozhin wrote on Telegram on Wednesday evening. Due to high losses, Wagner had to leave the flank protection to regular units of the Russian army, which, according to the reports of the Ukrainian military, were significantly pushed back. "There is now a serious danger of encircling Wagner due to the collapse of the flanks," Prigozhin wrote. "And the flanks are already cracking and crumbling."
Ukraine has been resisting a Russian invasion for over 14 months. The city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, held by Ukrainian troops, has been a focus of hostilities for months. A major counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army has been expected for weeks.
General Staff: Russians loot industrial zones near Zaporizhzhia
Parallel to the evacuation of the civilian population in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, which they control, the Russian occupiers have also begun looting and dismantling in the industrial zones there, according to information from Kiev. In Enerhodar, all the city's medical facilities were completely looted, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its situation report. All the medical equipment was brought to Simferopol on the also occupied Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Again, this information could not be independently verified.
In anticipation of a Ukrainian offensive to retake occupied territories, the Russian occupation authorities began some time ago to evacuate civilians from the vicinity of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is controlled by occupying forces, to the south.
Czech Republic to deliver two anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine
The Czech Republic is providing Ukraine with two Soviet-type 2K12 Kub anti-aircraft missile systems. The delivery includes a "relatively large number of missiles," said Czech President Petr Pavel. According to him, Ukraine can use this technique immediately, as its soldiers are familiar with it. The system can, for example, protect tank formations from attacks from the air. As a further possibility, the ex-general brought up considerations of providing Kiev with Aero L-159 light fighter jets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised his compatriots that he would completely expel the Russian occupiers from the country with foreign support. "We will not leave a single piece of our country to the enemy – tyranny will not reign anywhere," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Wednesday. "Let's not forget that every day that the occupier is on our land is a temptation for him to believe that he will succeed," Zelensky said. "He won't succeed! We need to bring freedom, security and Europe back to the entire Ukrainian land."
Zelensky said that the reconstruction of the war-torn country was already being prepared with foreign aid – from business and industry to armaments, energy, infrastructure and education to social affairs and health care. "Now, in May, we will finalize the specific points of these state programs, and in June we will work on our plans with our (foreign) partners," Zelensky said. "Here, in Ukraine, the world will see what Europe is capable of."