What happened in the 64th week of Russia’s war in Ukraine?
Ukrainian forces pushed back Russian occupiers north and south of Bakhmut in the 64th week of the war, successfully pressing a counterattack they had begun on May 9.
As Russian troops fell back on the flanks of the city, Wagner Group mercenaries continued to push through the eastern city itself, claiming much of the last Ukrainian foothold in its western suburbs.
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“Our troops liberated about 20 square kilometres [7.7sq miles] from the enemy in the north and south of the suburbs of Bakhmut. At the same time, the enemy is making some progress in Bakhmut itself, completely destroying the city with artillery,” said Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar, on May 14.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukraine had launched an assault north of Bakhmut, with more than 1,000 troops and up to 40 tanks. If confirmed, that “would amount to the biggest Ukrainian offensive since November”, said the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
The Ukrainian commander of ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, confirmed a new phase had begun, calling it “the first success of offensive operations during the operation for the defence of Bakhmut.”
“However, this is only a partial success. And that is how it should be perceived,” he wrote.
Eastern forces spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty said Ukrainian troops had on May 11 advanced “into the depth of enemy positions from 250 metres [820 feet] to one and a half kilometres [0.93 miles].”
Maliar put the advance at two kilometres (1.24 miles).
Geolocated footage posted on May 12 showed Russian troops fleeing Ukrainian artillery fire on the southern bank of the Berkhivske Reservoir, about four kilometres (2.5 miles) northwest of Bakhmut, while Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Priogozhin claimed that Ukrainian soldiers were within 500 metres (1,640 feet) of Bakhmut’s northwestern city limits.
At the same time, Russian sources claimed that Wagner mercenaries had advanced 220 metres (722 feet) within the city.