Russia Loses More Ground in Donetsk After Missing Putin's Hard Deadline

Ukrainian troops have retaken control of a settlement in the eastern Donetsk region, chipping away further at Russian-held territory after President Vladimir Putin's army failed to meet his deadline to take more ground in the region, Ukraine said Friday.

Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces, said at a briefing that Ukrainian troops had recaptured the settlement of Yatskivka east of the Oskil River, according to the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

"Our forces are improving their tactical position[s]," Ukrainska Pravda quoted him as saying. "Thanks to timely regrouping of the units of one of the mechanized brigades and high level of combat organization, we managed to retake the lost position and take the positions to the south of Bakhmut under our control."

The city of Bakhmut is the administrative center of the Bakhmut district within the Donetsk region. In the briefing, Hromov said that the situation on the Bakhmut front was complicated but controlled, despite continued attacks from Russian forces, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

Ukrainian Soldiers in Donetsk
Volunteers train during courses with The Mozart Group, in the Donetsk region on September 22, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian troops have retaken control of a settlement in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, chipping away further at Russian-held territory after President Vladimir Putin’s army failed to meet a deadline to take more ground in the region. Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

In a briefing earlier this month, Gromov said that Putin had given his troops a September 15 deadline to push to the administrative borders of the Donetsk region, though Newsweek was not able to independently verify the deadline. He added that Russian forces were adjusting their plans and actions to fulfill the order.

But more than a week after the deadline came and went, Russia has yet to establish full control over the region.

In June, the Associated Press, citing Ukrainian officials and military analysts, reported that it appeared Russia occupied roughly half of the Donetsk region. This week, Al Jazeera reported that only about 60 percent of the region was Russian-controlled.

Newsweek reached out to Russia's Defense Ministry for confirmation on how much of the Donetsk region it controls, as well as comment on Ukraine's recapture of Yatskivka.

While Russia was unable to meet the September 15 deadline, its efforts to do so might have paved the way for Ukrainian success in other parts of the country.

In its September 7 campaign assessment, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Ukrainian forces in the eastern Kharkiv region might have taken advantage of the absence of Russian forces to carry out an "opportunistic" counteroffensive in the area.

The think tank said that "the Russian grouping in this area was likely understrength due to previous Russian deployments to support ongoing efforts to capture the remainder of Donetsk Oblast and support the southern axis."

Ukraine has now retaken considerable ground in the Kharkiv region. General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine's military, said on September 11 that his troops had pushed to within 50 kilometers—or roughly 30 miles—of the border with Russia in Kharkiv.