On Sunday, a video was posted on Twitter purportedly showing drone footage of an assault on a trench held by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
The footage caused some controversy as some in the replies noted that the Ukrainians did not give the mercenary a chance to surrender before killing him.
As Ukraine prepares for its spring counteroffensive, the heaviest fighting has been in the east, especially around Bakhmut where the bloodiest fighting in the war has dragged on for more than 8 months.
Located in the eastern Donetsk region, half of which is controlled by Russian forces, Bakhmut is considered the key to Russia seizing the other half.
Ukrainian officials say they are buying time to prepare for a counteroffensive by depleting Russian forces in the battle for Bakhmut, according to the Associated Press.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that Ukraine’s forces have successfully set up positions east of the Dnieper River, increasing speculation that Kyiv could be readying its launch of the spring counteroffensive.
If, as analysts believe, the goal of the spring counteroffensive is to sever the land corridor connecting Russia with the illegally annexed peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine would need to successfully cross the Dnieper.
According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, geolocated footage from pro-Russian military bloggers shows that Ukraine has established a foothold with “stable supply lines” near Oleshky, a town on the east bank of the Dnieper.
In response to the news, Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern operational command urged patience, saying that details about the Ukraine military’s operations along the Dnieper could not be disclosed for security and operational reasons.
Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of the Kherson region, denied reports that Ukraine had secured a foothold east of the Dnieper. Saldo said in a Telegram post that Russian forces remain “in full control” of the area.