The Kremlin tried to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut by 9 May, which coincided with the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square., Some Russian leaders probably hoped to link the victory in the Donbass region with their victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Bakhmut: An Impossible Victory for Russia?
Of course, it didn’t go according to plan.
Ukrainian army successfully captured the besieged city, denying Russian President Vladimir Putin any significant victory in the ongoing conflict. More than 14 months after their unprovoked invasion, Russia has lost thousands of tanks and suffered more than 200,000 casualties.
Western officials estimate that 20,000 to 30,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting at Bakhmut alone.
A pyrrhic victory for Russia?
Even if Russia could eventually gain control of the city, it would be a Pyrrhic victory., Bakhmut is completely wiped out, with almost all of its buildings destroyed, and its entire population gone. For several weeks Kiev’s forces have been clinging to the edges of the city centre.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the situation is looking grim for the Kremlin this week, as there are now reports that Russian forces have begun to withdraw. The question is no longer when Russia will be able to regain control of Bakhmut, or if it will be able to do so, but rather whether it will be able to maintain the position it now controls.
A possible russian defeat
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have defeated a Russian infantry brigade. It was reported that the 72nd Separate Motorized Brigade may have already abandoned its positions on the south-western edge of the city centre, or may already be on the verge of a full withdrawal.
“It’s official. Prigozhin’s report about the escape of the Russian 72nd Independent Motor Rifle Brigade near Bakhmut and the ‘500 corpses’ of Russians left behind is true,” the Ukrainian 3rd Separate Assault Brigade announced. “The 3rd Assault Brigade appreciates the publicity about our success on the front line.”
Summary, Bakhmut’s position in the war in Ukraine appears to be one of the costliest and most destructive battles for Russia, with thousands of casualties and significant losses in terms of tanks and other military resources. Although control of the city remains uncertain, what is clear is that Russia faces a difficult situation and possible imminent defeat.