Ukraine war: Why is Russia trying to capture Chasiv Yar?

Ukraine war: Why is Russia trying to capture Chasiv Yar?


Ukraine war: Why is Russia trying to capture Chasiv Yar?

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 LONDON (Reuters) - Russian paratroopers have reached the eastern edge of the Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, which Kyiv's top commander says Moscow wants taken by May 9, the date when Russia marks the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

The Kremlin has not acknowledged setting such a deadline, but Russian forces are pummelling the strategically-important Ukrainian town's defenders with artillery, drone and air strikes.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine's top commander, has warned that the battlefield situation in the east has deteriorated. But he has said that Kyiv's brigades in Chasiv Yar are holding back the assaults for now and have been reinforced with ammunition, drones and electronic warfare devices.

If Russian forces capture the town, 12 km (7.4 miles) from the centre of the devastated city of Bakhmut they took last May after months of bloody fighting, they would be able to launch direct offensives against several Ukrainian "fortress cities."

Moscow's forces, according to embedded Russian war correspondents and analysts, are likely to attempt to squeeze Ukrainian forces from the east, south and north in order to force them to flee westwards.

Russian soldiers have begun phoning their Ukrainian counterparts in Chasiv Yar to demand they surrender or be wiped out by guided aerial bombs, which Moscow's forces have used with devastating effect, according to Russian state news outlet Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

With warmer weather setting in, Kyiv, which is lobbying Washington to release a delayed aid package amid shortages of men and ammunition, fears Russia is preparing a major offensive across the more than 1,000 km-long (620-mile) frontline.


Chasiv Yar (Quiet Ravine), which had a pre-war population of more than 12,000 and is called Chasov Yar by Russians, sits in the industrial Donbas area in Ukraine's Donetsk region - one of four Ukrainian regions Moscow claims to have annexed.

Dissected by a canal, its pre-war economy centred on a factory that produced reinforced concrete products and mining fire (refractory) clay, which is resistant to high temperatures, and making products out of it such as bricks.