Ukraine army retreats from part of strategic Chasiv Yar as Russia advances

Fall of key Donetsk town, prized for elevated position, would bring Russia one step closer to seizing entire region.

Chasiv Yar
Ukrainian soldiers fire 120mm mortar towards a Russian position on the front line at Chasiv Yar in Donetsk, Ukraine [File: Oleg Petrasiuk/Ukrainian Armed Forces via AP]

The Ukrainian military says its army has retreated from a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Chasiv Yar in the eastern Donetsk region, a strategically important town where Russian forces recently captured a district.

The military confirmed on Thursday that it had fallen back from the town’s Kanal district, saying “the enemy had entered”, destroying “defenders’ positions” and threatening “the lives and wellbeing of our soldiers”.

“The command decided to retreat to better protected and prepared positions,” said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s Khortytsia ground forces formation, reporting the withdrawal on state-run television.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence claimed on Wednesday that its forces had taken control of the Novyi district, which lies to the west of the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal that runs through the eastern part of the town.

Russian forces have had their sights on Chasiv Yar, a military hub prized for its strategic, elevated location, for months. The town lies a short distance from west Bakhmut, captured by Russia last year after a bitter 10-month battle.

The fall of Chasiv Yar would put cities like Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in jeopardy, compromise critical Ukrainian supply routes and bring Russia closer to its stated aim of seizing the entire Donetsk region.

The hilltop town has been left devastated by increasingly intense Russian strikes, with homes and municipal offices charred, its population of 12,000 having long fled.

Chasiv Yar
A destroyed building in the frontline town of Chasiv Yar [File: Oleg Petrasiuk/Ukrainian Armed Forces via Reuters]

In the past week alone, Russia has carried out nearly 1,300 strikes, fired nearly 130 glide bombs and carried out 44 ground assaults in the area of Chasiv Yar, said the military spokesman.

On the defensive

The Kremlin says Donetsk, which has borne the brunt of fighting since its forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, is part of Russia. Kremlin-supported separatist forces have controlled parts of the industrial region since 2014.

Ukrainian commanders in the area say their resources remain stretched, largely due to a months-long gap in military assistance from the United States which threw Ukraine’s military onto the defensive.

In June, members of the artillery brigade in Chasiv Yar reported that supplies of US ammunition had started to arrive.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian shelling on Thursday wounded seven people in the Ukrainian town of Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region, regional Governor Serhiy Lysak posted on the Telegram messaging app.

Lysak wrote earlier that Russian forces had attacked areas near Nikopol with kamikaze drones and artillery on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, damaging infrastructure, four residential buildings, a gas pipeline and a power line.

In the northern Chernihiv region, Governor Viacheslav Chaus reported that a Russian drone hit an infrastructure facility overnight, leaving nearly 6,000 customers without electricity.

On Wednesday, a Russian missile and drone strike in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro killed at least five people, wounding dozens.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies