Ukraine’s resistance in Ivanivske and Khromove prevents Russia’s grip on Bakhmut

Wagner Group mercenaries in Bakhmut.

One more day, Bakhmut is still besieged by the forces of the Wagner Group and some (few) units of the Russian army and, one more day, Bakhmut resists. The situation is precarious and risky, as the US media and the continuous leaks from the Pentagon insist on pointing out, which is climbing the walls with the decisions of the Ukrainian high command, but as long as Ivanivske and Khromove resist and the T0405 highway does , Ukraine is unlikely to withdraw its men.

no retreat, Wagner has two options left: the urban guerrilla or the clamp. At present, he is testing both possibilities, hoping that his superior numbers will make the defense of both flanks untenable. The urban guerrilla consists of trying to enter street by street and conquer building by building, or what is left of them. They can do it by crossing the Bakhmutka or coming down from the north taking advantage of the Azom steel works. The problem is the enormous cost of lives that this would imply for the private army of Eugeni Prigozhin.

If there is no other choice, it will be done, because what the ex-cook cannot afford at this point is look bad with Putin and see his political position further damaged Against Gerasimov and Shoigu, but it is normal to look for alternatives. For Russia, the ideal would be to close a clamp on the outskirts of Bakhmut, to also prevent its troops from being pocketed in certain neighborhoods of the city between Ukrainian resistance forces. He number one objective remains to take Khromove in the north and proceed from there towards Ivanivske, in the south. On the map, the distance is short, about five kilometers. In reality, those five kilometers are a world.

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So far, moreover, progress is scant. Late on Thursday, a possible attack by Wagner on School Number 2, next to the cemetery, in the south of the city, was rumored. The objective of this attack would be to definitively cut T0405 and make it impossible for troops, weapons or goods to arrive from Chasiv Yar, where military decisions are made and where thousands of refugees have fled in recent weeks. Regardless of the success of the operation, the truth is that this road has been unusable at that altitude for a long time. The bombardments are constant.

The American malaise

The resistance, for the moment, is not only heroic, but effective. Bakhmut was going to fall at Christmas and here we are in March counting the streets and neighborhoods. As we said before, in the Pentagon it is not seen that way. It cannot be a coincidence that in the last four days, both the New York Times As the Washington Post like the prestigious magazine Political have criticized Zelensky’s decision to keep his troops in the city. The three publications criticize that they are becoming obsessed with a symbol, incidentally wasting a good part of the ammunition that is sent to them from Washington, initially with the idea of ​​reserving it for a subsequent counteroffensive in spring-summer.

Wagner Group mercenaries in Bakhmut.


The disagreement in that sense is total. Ukraine needs the United States to stand up to Russia and in turn, the United States needs Ukraine to stop Putin’s feet and act as a shield in NATO territories. However, the political situation makes it necessary to justify each shipment of arms very well and demonstrate its usefulness. The statements of the probable candidate for the presidency for the Republican Party, Ron DeSantisin which he pointed out that the conflict in Ukraine was not a priority for US national security, are in line with what was pointed out by donald trump, kevin mccarthy or the whole of the FOX News network.

If the Biden administration doesn’t want support for Ukraine to become a topic of domestic political debate, it needs Ukraine to win, or at least appear to win. You need spectacular counteroffensives with ground gain. In this sense, seeing how Ukraine dedicates its resources to the defense of Bakhmut does not quite project the image that is sought in the Pentagon and in the White House. It is ignored, again, that Bakhmut’s resistance may be allowing stability in most dangerous fronts such as Siversk, Limán, Kreminna, Vuhledar or Avdiivka.

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Estimates of one million casualties

It may be that in this key it is necessary to understand the estimates that Politico magazine itself launched this Thursday in one of its articles. It was talked about 100,000 killed by the Ukrainian side. Following the traditional estimate of three seriously wounded or prisoners for every death (an estimate that is not an exact rule, on the other hand) we would be talking about 400,000 casualties in the Ukrainian army. It’s an outrageous number, the source of which is probably also the Pentagon, but one that is hard to believe. If Ukraine had already suffered so many casualties, it could not be successfully defending itself on so many fronts at once.

Besides, if we take into account that Russia, as the aggressor, must necessarily have suffered more casualties and setting a fairly conservative ratio of 1.5:1, we would be facing 600,000 Russian dead, wounded or prisoners. Again, a scandalous figure, since it exceeds what Putin has mobilized in principle, no matter how much we include the mercenaries and prisoners of the Wagner Group or the militiamen of the armies of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

A Ukrainian service member carries a mortar shell before firing on Russian troops outside the town of Bakhmut.

A Ukrainian service member carries a mortar shell before firing on Russian troops outside the town of Bakhmut.


In total, we would be talking about a million casualties in just over a year. It does not seem too realistic and it is normal to wonder what these leaks are due to and what effect they can have on the morale of the Ukrainians who read them. In fact, they practically coincide with those published at the time by the Russian defense ministry. Thinking of 50,000 Ukrainian deaths and 100,000 Russian deaths would perhaps be more logical. Even so, we would be facing a scenario of more than half a million casualties in action. The attrition war is what it has. Russia chose that path and it only remains to be seen what will be left of both armies when all this is over.

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