Ukrainian forces have successfully recaptured the village of Andriivka, located just 10 kilometers south of the Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut. Bakhmut, once a city known for its salt mining, now lies in ruins due to the prolonged conflict. The battle for Bakhmut has been relentless, involving Russian forces and mercenaries from the Wagner Group. Notably, the Wagner Group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, attempted a mutiny in eastern Ukraine before meeting an untimely end in a suspicious plane crash.

The recapture of Andriivka follows a series of intense battles that have been raging in the Donetsk region for the past several months. The village’s liberation holds strategic importance, allowing Ukrainian forces to establish a foothold on the southern flank of Bakhmut. This city witnessed the longest and bloodiest war battle, which commenced in February 2022.

The operation to retake Andriivka was carried out by Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade, which executed what they described as a “lightning operation” to encircle and dismantle the Russian garrison within the village. The successful operation has been hailed as a breakthrough, enhancing Ukrainian forces’ maneuverability around Bakhmut.

Hanna Maliar, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister, initially announced the village’s recapture, and the 3rd Assault Brigade later confirmed their success. The operation was undoubtedly challenging, with rapidly changing dynamics on the ground, highlighting the resilience and determination of Ukrainian forces.

Since the beginning of the counteroffensive in June, Ukraine has steadily regained territory around Bakhmut, totaling 50 square kilometers (19 square miles). Analysts and United States officials have questioned this slow but deliberate progress and have raised concerns about the allocation of forces in the region. However, Ukrainian military leaders have argued that their strategy effectively exhausts Russian forces by keeping them in one fixed position.

Andriivka’s strategic location between Kurdiumivka and the Klischiivka Heights in the Donetsk region has made it a focal point of intense fighting. This victory is added to a series of successful tactical moves by Ukrainian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where they previously penetrated Russia’s first line of defense and recaptured the village of Robotyne.

The gains in the south are particularly crucial as they bring Ukrainian military troops closer to the Sea of Azov. This proximity presents an opportunity to sever the land corridor to the Peninsula Crimean, which in 2014 Russia took over from Ukraine. If Crimea is isolated, it would divide territories occupied by Russia in the south and undermine Moscow’s supply lines.

Image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license and was created by Mykola Chervak.