Symbels Resumes

As Russian forces bear down on Bakhmut, Ukraine admits situation there is 'more and more difficult'

As Russian forces bear down on Bakhmut, Ukraine admits situation there 'more and more difficult'

Officials in Kyiv conceded that the situation is rapidly deteriorating around Bakhmut, a besieged mining city in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine that Russian forces have been hellbent on capturing for months.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday night that the situation in the Bakhmut area “is getting more and more difficult.”

“The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, to gain a foothold and ensure defense,” he added.

Zelenskyy said those defending Bakhmut — a city that Ukraine has repeatedly described as a “our fortress” due to it being heavily fortified — and the surrounding area were “real heroes” and that Kyiv was trying to ensure its forces have as many weapons as possible there.

Ukrainians watching a movie on TV at a humanitarian aid center in Bakhmut on Feb. 27, 2023 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

Russian forces and mercenary fighters belonging to the Wagner Group have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months, with the city and surrounding area becoming a scene of death and destruction. Despite the relentless fighting, several thousand civilians are estimated to remain in the city.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said Monday on Telegram that “the situation at the front is difficult. The enemy army is increasing the intensity of its assaults. The most difficult situation remains in the Bakhmut direction.”

She said Russia was employing the tactics of “exhaustion and total destruction” but said that Russian forces were experiencing significant losses, losing between 600 and 1,000 people daily, she claimed. Maliar added that Ukraine’s forces were conducting defensive operations in the face of the “numerical superiority of the enemy.”

A view of damage after attacks as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Bakhmut, Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia also claims to be killing hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk every day but, given the chaotic nature of war and both sides’ interest in accentuating the losses of their opponent, it’s hard to guage the actual number of fatalities in the region.

Needless to say, however, Bakhmut has been labeled as a “meat grinder” even by the head of the Wagner Group mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose forces have been slowly advancing.

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Nonetheless, Syrskyi was reported as saying Tuesday that the situation in Bakhmut was “extremely tense.”

“Despite significant losses, the enemy launched the most prepared assault units of [the] Wagner [Group], who are trying to break through the defenses of our troops and surround the city,” Syrskyi said, according to a statement posted on the official Telegram channel of Ukraine’s ground forces.

RUSI’s Ramani said that while “the Ukrainians are being out-fired and outgunned numerically in terms of personnel, in terms of ammunition, they’re also not going to surrender.” But he said it should be watched whether Ukraine decides to send its elite forces into Bakhmut or whether they reserve those forces for a counteroffensive expected in the spring.

“If I had to make a prediction about Bakhmut it’s that the Ukrainians are going to hold up for some time but as we get closer to the spring, they might make a tactical withdrawal … and redeploy their forces for the counteroffensive and then strike Bakhmut again,” he said.


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