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Critical timing Unless the Ukrainian military seizes the initiative soon, it risks losing more positions. Meduza’s updated combat map shows the latest developments in the war.
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 try to track the conflict in real time; the data reflected on the map are typically at least 48 hours old.
Key updates as of 1 p.m. GMT (9 a.m. EDT) on May 3, 2023
Invasion forces in Ukraine have halted their attempts to advance in nearly all key directions — probably due to the Russian command’s expectation of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive, for which it hopes to be ready. At the same time, the few segments of the front where the Russian side continues to attack show what can happen elsewhere if the Ukrainian military delays any further: in these areas, units are taking losses and retreating gradually under pressure from the Russian artillery and combat aviation.
Defense forces have retreated to the western and southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut, losing one of their two supply routes in the process. Instead of the residential areas, the defense is now grounded in a fortified district in the hills that separate Ivanivske (formerly known as Krasne) and Khromove. Cut off from sufficient supplies, the Ukrainian units still deployed in Bakhmut are being forced to retreat at the pace of 100 to a few hundred meters daily (300–1,000 feet per day).
- In late April, the Ukrainian army lost its foothold on the Medical College campus rising over the western side of Bakhmut, as well as the adjacent military base.
- Wagner Group mercenary units advancing from the north, across privately developed lots, have reached Bakhmut’s Yubileynaya Street, which serves as the supply artery to the northern quarters of the city. This street also has several exits leading to the Ukrainian positions in the hills between Ivanivske and Khromove, through the dirt roads that now supply those positions.
- The same roads also supply the Ukrainian units now controlling the southwestern exit from Bakhmut along Tchaikovsky Street. Wagner mercenaries captured the intersection of the Yubileynaya and Tchaikovsky streets in the final days of April. As a result, the two Ukrainian groupings, one in the city’s western sector and the other by the southwestern exit from Bakhmut, have been cut off from one another. Their remaining point of contact is outside the city limits, in the fortified area between Ivanivske and Khromove.
- If the Russian side succeeds in capturing the high-rise buildings by the southwestern exit from Tchaikovsky Street, this will deal a major blow to Ukrainian troops’ supply and coordination. The upper stories of those buildings offer a clear view of all the dirt roads leading into Bakhmut. The past record of street fighting suggests that, if they were to capture these buildings, Wagner units would immediately make use of the rooftops as surveillance points and places for installing anti-tank missile systems, which would cut off all further supply to the defender units.
- Wagner Group combatants have blocked Ukrainian forces’ key supply artery to Khromove. The mercenaries who started by shelling the road from the north have now taken over the Ukrainian trenches directly by the roadside. So far, they’ve lacked the necessary power to cross to the other side and move further south, towards Ivanivske, so they haven’t yet blocked the Ukrainian defenders’ remaining supply roads. Satellite images, meanwhile, show that the Ukrainian troops have dug dozens of kilometers of trenches over a small piece of land between Ivanivske and Khromove, where the Ukrainian tanks are also deployed.
- The dramatic battle for Bakhmut is likely to end in a prosaic gradual retreat of the remaining defender units from the city under pressure from the adversary, given their lack of adequate supplies. Only a major Ukrainian counteroffensive north and south of Bakhmut can prevent this outcome. At the same time, maintaining defensive positions within the city itself wouldn’t be necessary to the success of such a counteroffensive. The Ukrainian presence within the city limit is therefore a purely political matter.
After months of fighting, Russia’s 150th motorized infantry division has managed to capture the Marinka town center. This suburb of Donetsk has been practically reduced to rubble in the course of the fighting. It’s unclear what advantage the Russian military stands to gain from controlling its ruins, and Ukraine’s forces are ready to resist beyond Marinka’s town limits. Meanwhile, Russia’s springtime offensive on Pobeda, a settlement south of Marinka, has already failed, but the overall situation here makes clear that passive defense alone, even from fortified positions, is not enough for Ukrainian success. The defending army must find a way to seize the initiative and launch a counteroffensive.
Dnipro and the islands
In the six months since the Russian army’s retreat to the east bank of the Dnipro River, Ukrainian forces succeeded in gaining control of the river’s lower reaches (near Kherson) and the islands lying close to the eastern bank. Directly opposite Kherson, Ukrainian units of unknown size landed on the left (eastern) bank near the village of Dachi. Their bridgehead, though, is on swampy terrain. Also, it’s unclear how the Ukrainian Armed Forces plan to supply it across the river.
Still, Russian military commanders take this threat seriously. The Russian Air Force has been targeting Ukrainian positions in Dachi and elsewhere on the Dnipro River islands, possibly using high-impact glide bombs.
Crossing the Dnipro is unlikely to become the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ main thrust in the anticipated counteroffensive. But, given a successful advance from Zaporizhzhia towards Crimea, the bridgeheads on the Dnipro could prove important in a supporting role. We saw this happen last fall, when, following their success at Balakliya, Ukrainian troops forced a crossing of the Siverskyi Donets, capturing an important road junction by Lyman, and ultimately forcing a Russian retreat.
The data reflected on the map are typically at least 48 hours old. 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!
Translated by Anna Razumnaya
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