Russia Appears to Make Headway in Key Ukrainian Town of Chasiv Yar

Russia Appears to Make Headway in Key Ukrainian Town of Chasiv Yar
Ukrainian service members ride tanks near the front line city of Chasiv Yar, Ukraine, on April 10, 2023. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters)

Russian forces appear to be making headway towards their longstanding goal of capturing the strategic Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, according to reports on Sunday from both sides of the more than two-year-old conflict.

Chasiv Yar stands on high ground about 20 km (12 miles) to the west of Bakhmut, a town Russian forces seized a year ago after months of battles that flattened nearly all its buildings. It is seen by both sides as a potential staging point for Russia to advance on the key cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda quoted a blogger as saying that Russian forces had begun controlling a district of the town alongside a canal.

Russia’s 98th Paratrooper Division, posting on the Telegram messaging app, said Ukrainian forces were “doing everything possible to ensure our units do not move across the canal and take up positions in the ‘New’ district on the other side.”

Russian assault units were continuing to clear the canal district, it said.

Video posted by both sides showed soldiers making their way through virtually destroyed areas of an urban centre and checking buildings.

Russian forces have been making gradual progress in areas of the eastern front since the town of Avdiivka fell to Russian troops in February. They have also launched a cross-border incursion into parts of northeastern Kharkiv region, though Ukraine claims that advance has been stopped.

Ukraine has long anticipated a Russian advance and its top commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, last month said Moscow’s forces had hoped to capture Chasiv Yar in time for May 9 ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address on Sunday, made no mention of Chasiv Yar, but said the area around the town of Pokrovsk, to the southwest, remained the most difficult sector to defend.

“This is the toughest area along the entire front line, the one where pressure from the occupiers is the greatest,” he said.

“Every day this is the site of the highest number of engagements. Only yesterday, there were more than 40 assaults and as of this hour today, there have been more than 20.”

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