Saturday, April 15, 2023

Ukraine Repels Russian Attacks in East as Kyiv Plays Down U.S. Leaks; ‘They crawl forward 24/7:’ On the Zero Line with Ukrainian Infantry North of Bakhmut; RU Forces in Crimea Brace for Upcoming Attack from UKR;UKR Forces repel 50+ RU Attacks, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Oleksandr Klymenko/REUTERS
Ukraine Repels Russian Attacks in East as Kyiv Plays Down U.S. Leaks:
Ukraine’s army said it repelled attacks by Russian forces in the east of the country as officials in Kyiv sought to play down purported U.S. intelligence leaks that could compromise a planned offensive.
Russian forces launched fresh attacks against Ukrainian forces in the eastern city of Bakhmut and along the front line further north in Lyman, the army’s General Staff said in its daily update. There were also Russian attacks to the south around Maryinka and Avdiivka.
Russian forces and assault teams from Russia’s Wagner paramilitary unit are fighting for the center of Bakhmut, using missiles, artillery and airstrikes, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday during a press briefing. The Wagner assault teams were continuing to fight block by block in the central part of Bakhmut and were “pushing Ukrainian troops into the community’s western outskirts,” he said.
Ukrainian forces have been on the defensive for several months, seeking to hold back Russian forces and wear them down. By absorbing Russian attacks, Kyiv has also bought time for fresh units to train and integrate new weaponry supplied by the West ahead of an anticipated offensive to retake more occupied territory.
“We are now at such a stage of the war, when it is important for our society and partners not to lose a sense of the path we have to overcome,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Tuesday. “Compared to last year, it’s quieter in many places now. But this does not mean that somewhere you can ignore the war or be less focused on helping the state.”
The leaked highly classified U.S. documents, however, appear to contain information about potential battlefield vulnerabilities and the composition of parts of Ukraine’s forces that could be exploited by Russia.
As the Pentagon and Justice Department worked to identify the source of the leak, Ukrainian officials publicly said it wouldn’t affect the offensive, which was slated to begin in late spring or early summer. The exact timing and objective are closely guarded, but military analysts say Ukrainian forces are likely to attempt a breakthrough in the south with the aim of disrupting a strategic land bridge for Russia. --->READ MORE HERE
Francis Farrell/The Kyiv Independent
‘They crawl forward 24/7:’ On the zero line with Ukrainian infantry north of Bakhmut:
Climbing to a firing position through trenches dug into black Ukrainian soil, the relative quiet in the air is only reassuring to an extent.
At the most forward point, a Soviet-era recoilless rifle stands watch, dug into a shallow depression in the ground.
Bohdan, a company commander of Ukraine’s 10th Mountain Assault Brigade, rests casually in the dirt on one side by the weapon. Compared to a deep, narrow trench, the choice of location provides little protection.
Around 500 meters to the left, a line of poplar trees on the ridge opposite marks the nearest Russian positions.
“You can stick your head up and have a good look at them,” Bohdan said, “just not for too long.”
To the right, a washed-out landscape of no man’s land opens, where neither side holds the high ground, and understanding where the trenches run is more of a challenge. In the distance, a faulty shell bursts in the air, sending a trail of smoke slowly falling to the ground.
Bohdan points out settlements on the horizon, the names of which are not disclosed here to protect the location of the unit. One town across the valley, marked by a proud cement plant rising among the houses is now occupied, he said, while another further to the right remains under Ukrainian control.
A reserved man in his early thirties who prefers not to speak to the press himself, Bohdan agreed to bring the Kyiv Independent to this zero-line position in a rare period of calm, to speak to the infantrymen of his unit.
Located somewhere north of the destroyed salt-mining town of Soledar, these positions are, in theory, some of the most vulnerable of the Ukrainian lines in Donbas, containing one flank of the bulge in the map where Russian forces have made their greatest gains since summer last year.
Here, battles are fought at close quarters, as Russian forces, primarily those of the notorious Wagner paramilitary group, mount daily assaults on Ukrainian lines in an effort to overrun the northern flank of the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut, around 20 kilometers to the south, and push deeper into Donetsk Oblast. --->READ MORE HERE
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