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‘A meat-grinder in the woods’ As Wagner Group edges towards enveloping Bakhmut, Russia’s regular army risks getting bogged down near Kreminna. Here’s an updated map of the combat situation.

Source: Meduza

Since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Meduza has adopted a consistent antiwar position, holding Russia responsible for its military aggression and atrocities. As part of this commitment, we regularly update an interactive map that documents combat operations in Ukraine and the damage inflicted by Russia’s invasion forces. Our map is based exclusively on previously published open-source photos and videos, most of them posted by eyewitnesses on social media. We collect reports already available publicly and determine their geolocation markers, adding only the photos and videos that clear this process.

Meduza doesn’t make a goal of tracking the conflict in real time; the data reflected on the map are typically at least 48 hours old.

Key developments

In spite of Evgeny Prigozhin’s gripes about inadequate ammunitions supply, his Wagner Group is edging towards surrounding Bakhmut. Unless the mercenary group falls prey to political intrigues that plagued it in recent months, its fighters may soon reach the last major thoroughfare connecting Bakhmut to territory controlled by Kyiv. To make this happen, the mercenaries would have to capture Berkhivka and Yahidne (where fierce fighting is now taking place), together with the hill that sits between the two villages.

Given Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent statement that the Ukrainian military would only defend Bakhmut for as long as it remained “rational,” its retreat from Bakhmut is likely just a matter of time.

The red dots show recent events, and the gray dots show earlier events. Black indicates the approximate line of contact as of the last update; the red and blue areas mark places occupied (since early September) by Russian and Ukrainian forces. Clicking on them will provide additional information. Air strikes are marked with a special icon, ground operations with dots. Click on the point on the map to pull up source links.


  • After capturing Paraskoviivka (a northern suburb of Bakhmut), the mercenaries crossed the Bakhmut–Slovyansk thoroughfare and came up to Berkhivka and Yahidne. As of the time of the last update to our combat map, not a single photo or video confirmed Wagner Group’s presence in those villages or on top of the hill between them. Still, both sides acknowledge the fighting that’s now taking place in this area.
  • The hill near Yahidne offers a clear view of Khromove and the road that connects it with Chasiv Yar. This is the only paved road by which the Ukrainian army can receive supplies and reinforcements, or evacuate its wounded. If Russian mercenary fire can reach this route, the Ukrainian military’s retreat will then be limited to local dirt roads and open fields. (Last July, they already had to retreat in this fashion, when leaving the all-but-surrounded Lysychansk.) The disadvantage of this kind of retreat is that it would risk losing equipment and letting the adversary past a new line of defense in Chasiv Yar. If that were to happen, the Ukrainian line over the hills northwest of Bakhmut would also be compromised. Something similar has already happened in mid-January, when the Ukrainian forces were retreating from Soledar and couldn’t hold up their next line of defense, letting Wagner Group clasp Bakhmut, getting closer to rupturing the Ukrainian supply line.


  • The most recent phase of Russia’s offensive on Vuhledar has ended in complete failure. Vuhledar is an important urban center southeast of Donetsk, from which the Ukrainian forces control supply routes between the Donetsk region, Zaporizhzhia, and the Crimea.
  • Russia’s Eastern Military District forces, which took part in the assaults on Vuhledar since late January, have retreated to their starting positions after taking major losses. This was due to poor planning and, as a result, the Russian formations were forced into trenches right beside the well-fortified Ukrainian positions in the city and the nearby coal mines.
  • Russia could not organize supplies and reinforcements deliveries to frontline units, due to the extensive minefields, some of which had been set up remotely by Ukrainian artillery. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army managed to replenish itself, launched a counterattack, and drove the Russian troops out of the residential developments and forested areas in the south of Vuhledar.
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  • The Russian counteroffensive against the exhausted Ukrainian army (which had spent months on fruitless attempts to break through to Kreminna and further towards Siverodonetsk) has itself ended in exhaustion.
  • For several weeks, fighting has continued in the forests west of Kreminna. The presence of the Ukrainian forces in that area hinders the Russian troops in advancing north of the woods, in the direction of Torske, the bridges over Zherebets River, and further, towards Lyman. Nevertheless, the paratroopers fighting in the woods seem to be committed to capturing the area one clearing at a time. Both sides are posting videos documenting the adversary’s losses, burning military equipment, and captured personnel.
  • If Russian airborne units cannot force the Ukrainian military out of the forest, this particular offensive will turn into yet another “meat-grinder in the woods,” as seen, for example, in the forested area between Izyum and Slovyansk, on the Donetsk–Kharkiv regional border, where the sides fought without making any progress from spring to fall 2022. Ukraine then escaped the stalemate by striking against the weak Russian positions farther west, by Balakliya. This time, however, neither side seems to present any similar opportunities. The Russian offensive may have better prospects in the area that runs from Kupyansk to the Russian border in the northeast of the Kharkiv region. Russian activity has, in fact, been noticeable there in recent weeks, as the Russian military slowly advances towards Kupyansk.
Meduza is careful in working with data, but mistakes are still possible, and perhaps even inevitable. If you spot one, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]. Thank you!
What the combat situation looked like a week earlier

The state of Russia’s offensive Wagner Group’s tactics near Bakhmut, destroyed Russian tanks by Vuhledar, and other updates to Meduza’s interactive combat map

What the combat situation looked like a week earlier

The state of Russia’s offensive Wagner Group’s tactics near Bakhmut, destroyed Russian tanks by Vuhledar, and other updates to Meduza’s interactive combat map

Translated by Anna Razumnaya

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