Hardened Ukrainian troops forming a unit called the “Da Vinci Wolves” have been valiantly defending the last road leading out of the bloody battlefields surrounding battered Bakhmut. Fighting for the war-ravaged city has devolved into a furious and intense street-by-street struggle, with Kyiv’s forces halting Russian advances at a heavy cost.
The last paved highways allowing supplied and injured to be carried in and out of Bakhmut, dubbed the “Road of Life,” are critical to Kyiv’s war effort, and the Da Vinci Wolves, a force of volunteer warriors, are valiantly defending them.
Russia is dead set on capturing Bakhmut, not only for strategic reasons, but also for symbolic reasons.
Bakhmut, formerly a thriving industrial centre with a population of 70,000, has now become the epicentre of the fiercest combat since Russia’s invasion.
As the fighting rages on, the highways are the only way for Ukrainian troops at the front lines in Kyiv to escape from the area and replace their depleting supplies.
The Wolves are reported to be the most trained and well-prepared party within the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, and their unit is a mechanised infantry battalion that originated in Donetsk, which is now under Russian control.
They use tanks and artillery to protect the “Road of Life” and operate under the slogan “Iron and Fire.”
Last month, commander Dmytro Kotsyubaylo, widely known as “Da Vinci,” was killed in action near Bakhmut fighting Russian forces.
Prior to the invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky named Kotsyubaylo a “Hero of Ukraine” for his remarkable bravery, which the president hailed as a distinguishing trait of the nation’s history, character, and courage.
Kotsyubaylo, who was under 30 at the time, was also named one of Ukraine’s significant young leaders for 2021.
Despite Putin’s charges that Kotsyubaylo had ties to neo-Nazi groups, the commander refuted these allegations and indicated that any racist members from his army had been expelled.
On their Facebook page, the unit Kotsyubaylo belonged to expressed their devotion to safeguarding Ukraine’s future, saying: “Our soldiers stand on guard of the future of Ukraine every day.”
The Da Vinci Wolves also played a key role in defending Mariupol before its capture in May of last year.
This week remarkable combat footage surfaced showing the moment when the Wolves confronted fighters from the Wagner Group in a desperate firefight.
According to reports, the video was recorded recently and shows a Russian assault on a bunker occupied by Ukrainian soldiers located near the O0506 highway.
This road, which runs from Chasiv Yar to Bakhmut from the west, is the main supply route still accessible to Ukrainian troops who are fighting against the Wagner Group.
After over 10 months of conflict, the regions of the city from the northeast to the southwest are mostly under Russian control.