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ISW: The Ukrainians liberated as much territory in five weeks as the Russians occupied in half a year

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The Ukrainian army occupied almost as much territory in a five-week counteroffensive as Russian troops occupied in more than half a year, the American Institute for War Studies estimates in its latest report on the situation on the front. ISW also estimates that Ukrainian counter-offensive operations in the Bakhmut area may threaten Russian control over it, but it is too early to predict the city’s liberation.

From January 1, the Russians occupied about 282 square kilometers of territory Ukraine throughout the war zone. Since June 4, the Ukrainians have regained about 253 square kilometers of the country, estimates the ISW. Analysts note that these are their own estimates, which differ from Ukrainian estimates, probably because Ukraine assessed its initial control of the occupied territory differently.

According to estimates published on Monday by the Ukrainian General Staff, the army liberated 4 square kilometers of territory in the direction of Bakhmut over the past week, and about 24 kilometers in total since the beginning of the counteroffensive in this direction. In the south of the country, in the direction of Berdyansk and Melitopol, Ukrainian forces have moved 8.6 km since the beginning of the counteroffensive.

ISW: The Ukrainians are encircling Bachmut

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The American think tank also quotes Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malar as saying on Monday that the Ukrainians had taken over the hills in the Bakhmut area, which allowed them to gain fire control over the city itself.

“Ukrainian representatives have recently signaled that they are trying to trap Russian troops inside the city. It seems that Ukrainian operations are aimed at slowly encircling Russian troops in Bakhmut and on the flanks” – notes the ISW.

Ukrainian tank in Bakhmut ALEX BABENKO/PAP/EPA

Experts consider the statements of the Ukrainian authorities on this subject to be rather credible, although earlier, when the Russians occupied Bakhmut, they were cautious about Russian declarations about cutting off Ukrainian overland supply routes around the city. Now, the ISW explains, both Ukrainian and Russian sources talk about the Ukrainians taking over areas on the south-western flanks of Bakhmut, including certain places specific in terms of terrain, which may allow them to gain fire superiority. The scenario of the encirclement of Russian troops in Bakhmut is also a topic that worries Russian war bloggers associated with the Kremlin, indicates the ISW.

Overall, according to experts, a Ukrainian counter-offensive towards Bakhmut may threaten Russian control over the city, but it is too early to predict the liberation of Bakhmut.

Main photo source: ALEX BABENKO/PAP/EPA



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