‘This is a meat grinder’: Fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces turn to Bakhmut

The battle for the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut rages on as Russian forces, led by a brooding group of Wagnerian mercenaries, attempt to capture the small but strategically important city, exchanging merciless artillery fire with Ukrainian forces.

Fighting, which has become increasingly deadly in recent days, underscores Russia’s desperation to declare victory in the eight-month-long war as Ukrainian counterattacks have nearly halted its gains in the past month. doing.

“The ongoing offensive around Bakhmut comes after months of withdrawal that demoralized both Russian and Kremlin forces in the face of a successful Ukrainian counterattack,” said James Black, a defense analyst at Rand Corp. , reflects a desire for good news.” Moscow Times.

The capture of Bakhmut, a salt-mining city in the Donetsk region with a pre-war population of 70,000, would give Russia an important foothold from which to launch attacks on major cities such as Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. will be battle last month.

“Bakhmut is one of the few places since the summer where Russia has moved forward instead of backward,” Black said.

According to the Ukrainian Army General Staff, Ukrainian forces this week repelled two Russian offensives heading in the direction of Bakhmut from the city of Soledar, 10 kilometers northeast of the city, and from the south near Ivankhrad.

The Wagner Group, which has played a central role in the Russian offensive in recent months, appears to be spearheading the move to Russian cities.

“Wagner’s troops are advancing every day,” said Evgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s Kremlin-linked founder. press release Published by his Concord catering company.

Heavy fighting cut off Bakhmut’s water, gas, and electricity supplies. A large number of civilians remain in Bakhmut, despite an estimated 90% of the population being displaced following an all-out Russian invasion.

“Unfortunately, my parents stayed there and had no contact for more than two weeks,” a Bakhmut resident who wished to remain anonymous told the Moscow Times.

Moscow forces took control of Zaitseve, a key settlement south of Bakhmut, on Wednesday, according to Russian pro-war bloggers.

But the Russian army pays a heavy price for each meter gained.

Jakub Janovsky, a contributor to Oryx, a defense analytics website that uses open source intelligence to track Russian losses, told The Moscow Times:

Unconfirmed for the past few days video Footage shows scorched earth and a salvo of Ukrainian artillery unleashing across Russian positions northeast of Bakhmut.another video, A captured Wagner mercenary is seen claiming that of the fifty men in his unit, only twelve remain.

Among these losses are men recently sent to Ukraine as part of Moscow’s “partial” mobilization, and Russian prisoners recruited from prisons by Wagner.

“I’m an actor by training. I’ve been in more than 20 films so far,” said one of Wagner’s soldiers outside Bahmut. report It aired Thursday on Russian state broadcaster Channel 1. “I’m a warrior, so maybe that’s why I’m here…[These] Those who chose to be warriors. ”

However, reports show that Russia is often recklessly deploying large amounts of new personnel. One Ukrainian soldier claimed that Russian recruits were being ordered to approach positions in Kyiv in a deliberate tactic to engage Ukrainian forces and survey their positions.

“Their job is to fire at us and reveal our position,” Sergiy, a major in the 53rd Brigade, told AFP.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said these tactics reflected the “madness” of the Russian command in its relentless efforts to seize Bakhmut.

“Every day, for months, they are killing people there and concentrating the highest level of artillery fire there,” Zelensky said. Said in his Thursday night speech.

And with winter looming, Rand analyst Black said Russia would need to act quickly to take Bahmut and boost domestic morale.

“Historical experience suggests that the onset of winter is likely to have a significant impact on military operations in the coming weeks and months as the combination of mud, subzero temperatures and snow settles. .” ‘This is a meat grinder’: Fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces turn to Bakhmut

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