He warned that the Prigozhin units, which have been besieging Bakhmut for months, effectively razing the city to the ground and, according to their own statements, have taken around 95 percent of the city area under their control.
“The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst of all forecast scenarios.” The area, which had been occupied for months in hard fighting, was given up within a day practically without a fight by the regular units that were supposed to hold the flanks, he complained.
Wagner mercenary unit sounds the alarm – Bachmut as a harbinger of the Ukraine offensive
At the same time, the lack of ammunition in his units continues “because the promises made by the Ministry of Defense have not been fulfilled”. He invited Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Bakhmut so that he could personally assess the threat situation. Now the animosity between Prigozhin and Shoigu is well known. The wrangling over competence has been paralyzing the Russian armed forces for months – and yet progress has been slow but steady in Bakhmut. So why the fuss?
The problem facing the Russian attackers is that they have been storming well-fortified defenses head-on for months, accepting high losses on their own side. Prigozhin’s storm troopers consist in part of Russian prisoners who were often ruthlessly sacrificed. The fact that Prigozhin needs regular units on his flanks is also due to the fact that he is running out of his own men. But these units are usually worse equipped than the mercenaries themselves – and therefore less combative.
The Ukrainians’ losses in defense were also high, but not as serious as those of the attackers. Meanwhile, in the hinterland, Kiev has been able to put together attack units, equip them with modern weapons from NATO countries and train them. Most of these are now ready for the long-awaited counter-offensive by the Ukrainians.
Offensive of Ukraine in Bakhmut already began
And according to the military economist Marcus Keupp, this has already begun – admittedly not yet on a broad front, but with the necessary preparation. In recent weeks, infrastructure objects in the hinterland – be it in southern Russia or the areas occupied by Russia – have been targeted with drones. Blazing tank farms in Crimea, which has been annexed since 2014, or in the Russian region of Krasnodar across the way are evidence of the success of this tactic.
The slight gains in terrain at Bachmut demonstrate that the offensive is entering the next phase: reconnaissance through combat. With the help of attacks, the Ukrainian military is trying to feel for the weak points in the Russian lines. Of course, Kiev has modern satellite images, but the real strength of the enemy can sometimes only be determined in combat.
And from the Ukrainians’ point of view, the opponent shows weakness on the flanks of Bakhmut. The Russian units in the region are still a long way from encirclement, which the Russian war reporter Yevgeny Poddubny warned of.
But Moscow has to decide whether to reinforce troops there at the expense of other sectors of the front, or risk embarrassing them with a powerful strike. It would be a heavy defeat, first of all, symbolically, since the near capture of Bakhmut was the only result of the Russian winter campaign.
Expert forecast – Kiev has not yet attacked in full force
In any case, it’s an awkward choice for Moscow, because Kiev hasn’t attacked in full force yet. According to military experts, Ukraine finds it easier to move its troops from one front to another because the distances are shorter. The Russian attackers have to take long detours and can only supply the units stationed in southern Ukraine via Crimea – a logistical bottleneck. Fast reaction times are all the more important for Moscow.
This is exactly what Kiev will focus on in the coming weeks and will repeatedly prick individual sections of the front; be it in the north between the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, in the center in Donetsk or on the southern front between Zaporizhia and Cherson. If the Russian side does not react to this, the Ukrainians will advance and retake territory.
If the Russians gather reinforcements, their opponents look for the next point of attack in Kiev. The aim is to tire the Russian troops so much that they then miss the decisive breakthrough.