Bakhmut starts to Crack, Russian waves are testing Ukraine’s strength

Lorenzo Bagnato

9 January 2023 - 22:16

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With the likely fall of Soledar, a city near Bakhmut, Ukraine’s position against Russia could be worsening.

Bakhmut starts to Crack, Russian waves are testing Ukraine's strength

Fight for key Ukrainian city continues with brutal and spectacular force. The battle of Bakhmut started a month ago, after the reconques of Kherson by Ukraine. Ever since, Bakhmut has been the only active front in the war despite the winter, but it might as well have become the bloodiest.

Bakhmut is a crucial city for both armies, wedged between the Donbass’ two capitals: Donetsk and Luhansk. Bakhmut connects the two cities, both under Russian control since the start of the war, through rail.

The conquest of Bakhmut would mean giving the Russian army much needed breathing room, funneling supplies better to the whole front. The attack against the city, however, has been anything but straightforward.

Already at the start Bakhmut looked like the bloodiest battle of the whole war so far. Entrenched in mud, the Ukrainian repelled wave after wave of Russian attacks in World War One-like conditions.

On Monday, the Russians launched the biggest wave yet, while they bombed civilian infrastructures in the region of Kharkiv further north.

Bakhmut: a prelude

In Bakhmut most of the fight is not endured by the Russian army, rather by the Wagner Group. They are a mercenary force under the command of Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.

On Monday, reports on the ground suggest that Wagner forces have almost completely conquered the town of Soledar, near Bakhmut. If that were true, Ukraine’s position around the city would be more vulnerable, though the fate of the battle is yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, however, Russian high command is likely planning for a new offensive to take place in the spring. For that, they will probably have to mobilize a new wave of conscripts, 500.000 according to Ukrainian intelligence.

Such new offensive would mirror the start of the entire war, when the Russian army crossed the Belarusian border into Ukraine, aiming at Kyiv. The capital, however, held out exceptionally well and Russia was completely unable to surround it.

How Putin hopes to conquer the city now remains a mystery: he would have to face a much better prepared and equipped Ukrainian army. Furthermore, Kyiv expects this offensive to occur, as Putin signalled it quite bluntly by going to Belarus and meeting its president Aljaksandr Lukashenko.

Perhaps all of this is just a diversion from another move, a different offensive not yet dected by Western intelligence.

Surely, the fate of the whole war relies on Bakhmut. It would definetely improve Russian’s tactical position while weakening Ukraine. And, despite all of Western help, Ukraine can hardly afford another setback.


# Russia
# War

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