“I think that sooner or later, it is very likely that we will have to leave Bakhmut. It makes no sense to keep it at all costs,” Ukrainian parliamentarian Serhi Rakhmanin said on Wednesday. The situation is critical, but President Volodimir Zelensky refuses to give it up. That same Wednesday he sent reinforcements and the epic defense of the city is winning respect from enemies.” They offer a fierce resistance“, the head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin said the next day. “Our divisions they have practically surrounded Bakhmut“He added this Friday.
In a video published by the leader of the mercenaries on his Telegram channel, Russian troops and mercenaries could be seen closing the last access roads to Bakhmut. A victory suffered – “the bloody combats increase every day,” he described – which, if it finally occurs, will become the first great news for the Kremlin in six months and will confirm Prigozhin as someone essential for Vladimir Putin.
“Divisions of the Wagner Group they have practically surrounded Bakhmut, there is only one road left“, Prigozhin said in a message published by his press service, addressed to Zelensky, according to the Russian news agency TASS. All despite the fact that” the Ukrainians send additional reserves into the forest with Bakhmut to try to hold the city.”
In the images recorded by the mercenaries of the Wagner Group, it can also be seen that, indeed, the city has been reduced to ruins. Still around 4,500 civilians remain locked up in Bakhmut who, for the moment, have refused to be evacuated. Now they are at their last chance: only one exit route remains open for the Ukrainian troops.
[Rusia rompe la defensa de Ucrania en Lugansk pero los Wagner avisan: “Tomar el Donbás costará dos años”]
The truth is that, beyond the epic aura that surrounds Bakhmut, the Ukrainian soldiers are using a desperate defensedreaming that a help, or a miracle, arrives from beyond the forest to establish renewed hopes.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers have recently been put to dig new trenches and Robert Brovdi, commander of a Ukrainian drone unit that has been fighting there for 110 days, told Reuters reporters that he had been ordered to retire.
The victory in Bakhmut, which before the war had a population of 70,000 inhabitantswould give Russia the first big prize in a costly winter offensive after it last year called up hundreds of thousands of reservists.
Russia claims it would be a springboard to capture the surrounding Donbas region, a major war objective. But while Moscow gives it a special strategic value Because a large part of the supplies that kyiv sends to its troops on the eastern front come from there, Ukraine now downplays Bakhmut.
Having recaptured swathes of territory in the second half of 2022 and spending the last three months gathering military forces in the city to defend it, now Ukraine says Bakhmut has little strategic value. However, the enormous losses that occur there could determine the course of the war.
In this Friday’s video of Prigozhin, the one known as ‘Putin’s chef’ asks Zelenski, from a rooftop, to stop the bleeding and immediately order the withdrawal of Bakhmut’s troops. “The pincers are closing,” she warned.
The camera panned to supposedly show three captured Ukrainians –an older man with a gray beard and two children– who asked to be allowed to return home. From the visible buildings, Reuters geolocated the video and determined that the footage was filmed in Paraskoviivkaa village located 7 km north of the center of Bakhmut.
Ukraine remains hopeful
Despite the fact that the situation in Bakhmut “has deteriorated in the last week” and that the city is under siege, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian National Guard remains hopeful and claims that the Wagner Group is deliberately withholding information about the numerous casualties that are accumulating.
“The situation is critical, but they do not take into account their losses when trying to take the city by storm. The task of our forces in Bakhmut is inflict as many losses as possible on the enemy. Every meter of Ukrainian land costs the enemy hundreds of lives,” Nazarenko said.
To sustain the defense and continue forcing Russia to continue with its expensive attack system, the deputy commander has asked the West for more help: “We need as much ammunition as possible. There are many more Russians here than we could kill with the ammunition we have.”
[Zelenski destituye al comandante en jefe del Donbás por el avance del Grupo Wagner en la región]
For now, the Ukrainian Army does not intend to give up resistance and has warned that its troops they will only leave Bakhmut if it is “absolutely necessary”. “As long as the command sees that it makes sense to maintain a certain settlement, they will fight for it,” he told local television. Eastern Operational Command spokesman Serhi Cherevati.