Russian troops were seen fleeing across open fields on the outskirts of Bakhmut as they were pursued by a tank-led Ukrainian counter-offensive that recaptured land in the besieged eastern city.
The T-72, a Soviet-era tank belonging to Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade, ploughed through a wooded area as it chased the Russians onto an artillery-scarred plain.
The footage was shared by a Ukrainian unit amid a two-day offensive around the area of the so-called “road of life”, the highway between Bakhmut and nearby Chasiv Yar used to resupply troops fighting to defend the remainder of the city still held by Kyiv. It came as another Ukrainian battalion claimed to have recaptured almost nine square kilometres from Russian forces in the area.
If confirmed, the gains would represent Ukraine’s most sizable advance in the area for months amid rumours its armed forces are on the brink of encirclement by their Russian enemy.
“As a result of the offensive actions of the 3rd Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, units of the 72nd Brigade of the Russian Federation were defeated,” Andrii Biletskyi, the founder of the Azov battalion, said.
“In fact, the 6th and 8th companies of this brigade were completely destroyed. The entire area was completely liberated from the Russian occupying forces.”
His video statement would confirm an earlier claim by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who have spearheaded Moscow’s efforts to capture Bakhmut, that Russian units had abandoned their position in the city.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has repeatedly ignored the advice of his western backers, such as the US, to withdraw from Bakhmut, which is not deemed strategically significant by some allies.
The Daily Telegraph, London