Illustration photo – In this photo taken from a video released by the press service, Yevgeny Prigozhin appeals to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to withdraw remaining Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut at an undisclosed location in Ukraine on March 3, 2023.
Kyiv – The Russian mercenary Wagner (Vagnerov in Russian transcription) group claims to be in full control of the eastern part of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. According to Reuters, the founder of the group Yevgeny Prigozhin stated this today. However, some of his statements about the achievements of the Wagnerians turned out to be false in the past. Kyiv has not yet responded to his statement. The mercenaries, together with the units of the Russian army, have been trying to take full control of the Ukrainian city at the cost of heavy losses for many months.
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“Units of the Wagner private military group have taken control of the eastern part of Bachmutka. Everything east of the Bachmutka river is fully under the control of the Wagnerites,” Prigozhin said in a voice recording on the Telegram network. According to Reuters, his claim could not be independently verified.
However, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also concluded, based on an analysis of its sources, that “after a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal”, Russian forces probably occupied the eastern part of Bakhmut beyond the Bakhmutka River.
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In its regular morning operational brief, the Ukrainian General Staff reports, that Russian invasion forces “despite significant losses” continue to attack Bakhmut. And they claim that the Russians are continuing an unsuccessful offensive, among other things, at this city. “Unsuccessful offensive actions also took place in the villages of Berchivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Orichovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske and Klishchiivka,” claims the command of the Ukrainian forces, referring to the villages north, south and west of Bakhmut.
According to him, the Russians have launched more than 30 unsuccessful attacks in the last day at Orichovo-Vasylivka alone. In total, Ukrainian defenders have repelled over 100 enemy attacks over the past day, writes the Ukrainian General Staff, and among other things informs that the invading army continues to focus its main efforts on offensive actions in the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdijivka and Shakhtarsk.
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The capture of Bakhmut – a town with a pre-war population of 70,000 – would be Russia's first major victory in more than half a year and could open the way for it to attack the last remaining urban centers in the Donetsk region.
According to the Institute for the Study war, but in the case of occupying Bakhmut, Russian forces will not be able to immediately continue deeper into the territory of Ukraine. In this part of the front, Russia mainly uses units for close combat, which apparently do not master the maneuver method of combat, and does not have enough mechanized forces there, writes ISW.
In addition, two roads lead from Bakhmut to the west in different directions – to Kosťantynivky and to Slovjansk and Kramatorsk. Offensives in either direction will not support each other, so the Russian command will have to choose one to have any chance of success. In addition, Ukrainian forces have built strong fortifications along both routes, ISW reports.
While Russia has made gains around Bakhmut in recent weeks, its winter offensive has otherwise been unsuccessful and has yielded no significant results in major attacks further north and south. profits, noted Reuters.