Dramatic Ukrainian Advance Near Bakhmut Rankles Pro-Wagner Group

A video posted on May 5 by a Ukrainian army brigade showing troops advancing quickly on Russian trenches near Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, has rankled the administrators of Grey Zone, a Telegram channel closely tied to Russia’s Wagner mercenary company.

The video, posted on YouTube by the 3rd separate assault brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and captured by a soldier’s helmet-mounted camera and a drone, shows at least seven Ukrainian soldiers exiting a BMP infantry vehicle next to a tree line in fields in Kostyantynivskyi district, about 9 miles southwest of Bakhmut, and proceeding to advance on Russian positions in trenches and dugouts to their east.

Using the BMP as cover, the soldiers move forward while exchanging fire with enemy forces ahead of them. In just 16 minutes, they successfully advance about 330 meters (1,082 ft) toward a transmission tower, where they find Russian dugouts. After a Ukrainian soldier says a Russian soldier was still inside one of the dugouts, they begin shouting at him to surrender, telling him he would survive, and throw a smoke grenade inside the hole to try to force him out, according to English-language captions generated by Google Translate. As an unseen Russian soldier fails to surrender and continues to fire at the Ukrainian troops from inside the dugout, the Ukrainian soldier filming the operation on his helmet camera throws a hand grenade into the dugout.

The footage rankled the administrators of Grey Zone, a Telegram channel closely tied to PMC Wagner, the private mercenary company led by Yevgeny Prigozhin that was leading Russian efforts in Bakhmut. In a post on May 18, the administrators said the footage appeared to refute reports from the Russian defense ministry that its assault units in the area were holding their flanks with support from artillery units, according to translations provided by Google and Dmitri Masinski of War Translated.

“The assault itself lasts about 16 minutes in one shot. During this time, the enemy advances 305 meters,” Grey Zone wrote. “Where are the hand-held anti-tank weapons? Where are the anti-tank firing points with ATGMs? Where is the minefield with the TMs? Where is the fire support from the flanks (perpendicular forest plantations) on the left and right? WHY THE F*** DOES THE BMP RIDE SLOWLY IN OPEN TERRAIN FOR 15 MINUTES?” they continued.

Grey Zone said the video showed the Ukrainian brigade seizing a “platoon strong point” belonging to the Russian Armed Forces whose troops, they said, were lacking resources and support, leading them to be “crushed as below in the video.” Credit: Ukrainian Ground Forces via Storyful