Ukrainian troops advance on the eastern front Donetskwhere half a thousand former mercenaries of the dismantled Wagner Group have returned, while in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia the Russian Army is building new fortifications around the strategic city of Tokmak.
“I have received reports on the situation on the front, the supply of equipment and ammunition and intelligence information. There is progress in the Donetsk area,” said the President of Ukraine today, Volodymyr Zelensky, without giving more details.
The spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ilya Yevlash, stated this Wednesday that the soldiers have had “successes” near the liberated towns of Klishchivka, Odradivka and Shumy, all south of the occupied city of Bakhmut.
Russian troops are trying by all means to recover lost positions around Klishchivka and the neighboring town of Andrivka (which was also liberated by Ukraine), by raiding and shooting “constantly” against these two villages, he noted.
It is in this front area where last May the Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group took control of the city of Bakhmut after a ten month battle.
After the failed rebellion of the mercenaries at the end of last June, the group of the deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin It was dismantled and the fighters had to subordinate themselves with contracts to the Russian Ministry of Defense or remain in exile in Belarus.
Yevlash confirmed to the newspaper today RBC-Ukraine that “Wagnerites are on the territory of the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
“They are fighters who were in Belarus. Now their camps there are being dismantled. There were about 8,000 of them in that country and now some have gone to Africa and others have negotiated contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense and come back here, to eastern Ukraine, to participate in hostilities, both as instructors and military personnel”he explained.
According to the spokesperson, these are about 500 fighters and “they do not represent a significant threat, since their leader, Prigozhin, is no longer here,” after dying in a still unclarified plane crash in August in an event whose responsibility many attribute to the Kremlin.
A pro-Kremlin blogger, who has a Telegram group that comments on the war in Ukraine called Rybar, stated the day before that the first Wagner units “began to return to Bakhmut to counterattack on previously lost positions”.
The core of this group would have been affiliated with the mercenary companies “Redut” and the “Volunteer Corps” of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The rest of the Wagnerites would be negotiating through their supposed new leader, Anton Yelizarov (known as “Lotus”), with the Russian National Guard about including detachments under its umbrella.
The Russian Duma or lower house intends to soon study a bill that would allow the National Guard to include “voluntary formations.”
In turn, on the southeastern front of Zaporizhzhia, where the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been most successful in its almost four months, the legitimate mayor of the occupied city of Melitopol, the Ukrainian Ivan Fyodorovnoted today on his Telegram that “the Russians continue to build fortifications.”
Ukrainian troops are trying to advance towards Melitopol from the liberated town of Robotine and from Verbove, on whose western flank they have managed to drive a wedge into Russia’s second line of defense.
Before reaching Melitopol, they must take the strategic city of Tokmak, about 30 kilometers to the south, since two roads leave from there: one to that great city occupied by Russia and the other to Berdiansk, port also controlled by enemy troops.
The objective is to cut the land corridor that Russia created at the beginning of the war and that links the Donbas along the Sea of Azov with southern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.
Aware of the importance of Tokmak, the Russians have built a “new fortified area on both sides of the road leading to the newly liberated village of Robotine” north of the city, Fyodorov noted.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) stated in its analysis this Wednesday that Elements of Russia’s 42nd Motor Rifle Division are being deployed “as far away as Tokmak.”
This, however, suggests, he added, that the Russian command had not sent enough men to the multi-echelon defense in southern Ukraine.
(With information from EFE)