Graphic helmet-cam footage shows an intense battle to capture Russian-occupied territory by a Ukrainian unit
- Graphic helmet-cam footage reveals the conditions for Ukrainian fighters in Bakhmut.
- Videos show 3rd Separate Assault Brigade soldiers throwing grenades and firing their weapons.
The tense videos of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade published on social media and the group's Telegram page last week give a sense of what it's like to be on the war-torn battlefield of Bakhmut, which has been at the center of the conflict for months on end.
The GoPro-style video, filmed on a camera attached to a Ukrainian soldier's helmet, shows the smoky ruin of Russian trenches littered with corpses after the unit mounted a series of surprise counterattacks. Ukrainian soldiers throw grenades, fire their weapons, and advance toward Russian positions as the viewer becomes a spectator of the graphic, close-combat conditions of the war.
— Knukli (@11Knuk123) May 15, 2023
Clips show the soldiers in foxholes as a small explosion is visible in the distance. The fighters shout to one another as they advance, as gunshots rattle off consistently in the background, and the camera pans over blurred dead bodies.
As the first reporters to join the brigade last week, UK's Sky News journalists could hear "machine guns crackle in the distance" as they moved on foot with the soldiers through the dangerous area that Russia had occupied just a few days earlier.
Only a few hundred meters from the Russian lines, Alex Rossi, a reporter for Sky News, spoke to a Ukrainian military guide who pointed to foxholes where Russian fighters previously hid before their surprise attack, in an area strewn with torn clothing, used tourniquets, and discarded ammunition crates.
Similar aerial footage of the fighting appears to show 3rd Separate Assault Brigade troops in armored vehicles chasing Russian fighters out of the area, Insider previously reported.
After a long stalemated period in the nearly 15-month-long war, the Ukrainian troops made some small gains in the highly contested area, Ukrainian military commanders said. Earlier this week, the Institute for the Study of War assessed that Ukrainian forces had liberated 16.85 square kilometers in the Bakhmut area. While the exact figures are contested on both sides of the conflict, Russia still retains ever-shifting control of the majority of the city.
Ukrainian military officials said their recent advances were only a "positional struggle" — and not part of a broader offensive — while Russia denied the reports of Ukrainian success.
A military expert recently told Insider that the Russians have a "fixation" on Bakhmut, despite some analysts believing the area is not strategically important.
"There's no question that the fighting around Bakhmut has chewed up both sides," Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider earlier this month.
While it is still unclear when Ukraine's large counteroffensive will materialize — even to those on the ground — the soldiers remain ready to continue fighting in perilous conditions until the moment comes.
"Of course, we are optimistic. We know what we are doing, we know how we must do our attack or our defense," the brigade troops told Sky News. "We know that in the end, maybe two, three, five years, I don't know, we will win this war."
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