>> New drone footage shows the war-torn Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Washington/Kiev – Ukrainian forces are apparently preparing to create the conditions for a controlled retreat by fighting from parts of the area around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. This was reported by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in its analysis on Friday evening. According to him, geolocation images confirm that Ukrainian troops in the area destroyed two important bridges – one over the Bachmutivka river in the northeastern part of the city and the other on the road west of Bachmut to the village of Chromove.
Photo gallery: Russian invasion of Ukraine
Recently, Ukrainian defenders and Russian aggressors have been engaged in intense fighting for Bakhmut with many casualties. According to experts, the battle has more of a symbolic than a strategic significance.
“The preventive destruction of the bridges probably shows that the Ukrainian troops may want to slow down the movement of Russian forces in the east of Bakhmut and limit possible escape routes from Bakhmut for Russian forces in the west,” writes ISW.
Russian troops have been trying to conquer Bakhmut, which had about 70,000 inhabitants before the war, since around last May. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksandr Rodnyanskyi said in late February that Ukrainian forces could withdraw from positions in Bakhmut if needed. According to him, Ukraine has fortified the area west of Bakhmut in such a way that even if Ukrainian troops start to withdraw, Russian forces may not be able to quickly take control of the entire city.
“If the command of the Ukrainian army considers it necessary to withdraw from Bakhmut , will likely conduct limited and controlled withdrawals from particularly difficult sectors of eastern Bakhmut, judging by Ukrainian statements and reported Ukrainian actions,” ISW writes.