An updated version of this story is availble here: ‘Russia’s Bakhmut Defense Line Breached’
- President congratulates troops on recapture of Klishchiivka
- Ukrainian effort in Bakhmut have kept Russians from building forces elsewhere
- Footage shows Ukrainian gains near Robotyne
- More drones rain down on Crimea, Russia says it intercepted seven of them
- US Joint Chiefs leader says counteroffensive has not failed
- Any North Korean aid will have minimal effect, US General adds
- VIDEO: Russian troops try to flee Ukrainian drone rather than surrender
Ukrainian forces retake Klishchiivka after success in Andriivka
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrsky, said on social media on Sunday that the strategically critical town of Klishchiivka was “cleared of Russian forces,” AFP reported.
The battle for the frontline town on the southwest outskirts of Bakhmut has been raging for many weeks, with Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) and Russian forces trading advances and retreats. Ukrainian forces had chalked up another huge success on Friday by retaking the town of Andriivka, AFU officials announced, a claim that the Kremlin is disputing.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the victory in Klishchiivka and offered his congratulations in his nightly address on Sunday. “Well done!” he said.
Zelensky stressed in his speech that improved air defenses of Kyiv and the country at large are a “priority” going forward.
ISW says that Bakhmut-area pressure has kept Russians from regrouping further south
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the constant pressure from the AFU in battlegrounds south of Bakhmut, resulting in the recapture of Klishchiivka and other key positions including Andriivka, has strained Russian forces enough to keep them from building offensives in their objectives further south.
The withdrawal of Wagner troops from the invasion earlier this year necessitated Russian reinforcements in the area, ISW added, contributing to the lack of Russian forces needed elsewhere. Indeed, the only Russian airborne brigade not dedicated to the Bakhmut-area fronts over recent months remains the 45th Guards Spetsnaz Brigade, a unit controlled directly by the Kremlin.
Ukrainian drones target Crimea and Moscow
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Telegram on Sunday that it had shot down seven drones over Russian territory and occupied Crimea.
One of the drones was intercepted at 1:45 a.m. Moscow time near the Russian capital, in the Istrinsky district, resulting in no injuries on the ground, the Ministry stated. At about the same time, two other drones were shot down on the western coast of Crimea, and then four others on the peninsula’s eastern and northwestern coasts.
Operations: Zaporizhzhia Region
RU 1429th TDF shelling AFU positions west of Robotyne. First visually confirmed sign of improving positions westward.— imi (m) (@moklasen) September 16, 2023
Shelling Locations: 47.4461382022, 35.8159212416
47.4456481911, 35.818687341@UAControlMap @GeoConfirmed pic.twitter.com/o3pFC9hgVX
RU special forces 100th SepBDE "Osman" shelling AFU infantry with artillery and "anti-aircraft guns" west of Verbove.— imi (m) (@moklasen) September 15, 2023
HighRes by @DefMon3 @UAControlMap @GeoConfirmed pic.twitter.com/Yr0cFrevRK
See drone chase down fleeing Russian soldiers
A soldier from Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade captured this video from a drone chasing down an invader who allegedly refused to capitulate to Ukrainian Armed Forces, as some of his comrades had done.
According to the soldier, many Russians troops, including officers, have been recruited by the AFU after they surrendered and were taken prisoner. This group of invaders had an alternate idea, and the Ukrainian anti-tank battalion showed it to be a poor decision indeed.
During the battles for Andriivka, we managed to recruit, in addition to ordinary Russian soldiers, a bunch of their officers and commanders.— Egor Sugar (@SugarEgor) September 16, 2023
One of such episodes: a Katsap officer tries to escape from the positions, but the FPV drone of the anti-tank battalion of the Third… pic.twitter.com/6VXVDNbY0g
US General Milley says liberation is a “high bar”, NATO chair applauds Ukraine’s effort
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive “has not failed” but that American aid is not “magic dust” that can be sprinkled on the battlefield to turn things around, AFP reported.
Milley is currently visiting Norway with other NATO brass, at a ski resort on the outskirts of Oslo. He will move on to the monthly meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Germany on Tuesday as President Zelensky continues to push for a new round of aid of longer-range missiles and other military equipment.
“I know there's some commentary out there that somehow this offensive has failed. It hasn't failed,” Milley said. “It’ll take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000 or plus Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That's a very high bar. It’s going to take a long time to do it.”
Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, said at the opening of the meeting over the weekend that “Ukraine has transformed modern warfare and they are moving forward every day. Every success is one step closer to victory,” the Associated Press (AP) reported. Adm. Bauer went on to say that Russia “keeps losing more and more ground, and the whole of Russia is suffering under the impact of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.”
Speaking with reporters traveling with him, Milley was also reassuring that any North Korean military support to Russia will have relatively little effect, according to AP.
Milley said the most likely outcome of the meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will be a shipment of Soviet-era 152mm artillery rounds to Moscow.
“Would it have a huge difference? I’m skeptical of that,” Milley told reporters. “I doubt that it would be decisive.”
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