Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Can Ukraine Crush the Wagner Group Once and For All?

M1 Abrams Tank

A M1 Abrams from 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, fires a round during a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Mar 26, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Ukraine is increasing the number of troops it sends to fight the scorching battle of Bakhmut in the eastern Donbas region. Both sides have dug in their heels and are aching to take control of this town. Reinforcements from Ukraine arrived in Bakhmut and the nearby village of Soledar on January 9. Russia is also enhancing its forces with operators from the Wagner mercenary group, which have proved more effective on the attack than Vladimir Putin’s conscripts.

Here is a rundown of the state of play in Ukraine right now: 

(Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel Here.)

Both Sides Have Their Backs to the Wall

The fight is becoming desperate as both sides are utilizing artillery to pepper enemy positions. Russia wants Bakhmut to show it can achieve newfound momentum while Ukraine wishes to continue its success in a counteroffensive that has spanked the occupiers since early autumn. Russian and Ukrainian troops show no signs of letting up in this region and the Russians have suffered thousands of casualties.

It’s a Battle of WillPower in Ukraine

If the Russian forces take Soledar they could surround and cut off Bakhmut from supplies and reinforcement. Ukraine has its own vote in the battle and its newly deployed troops could push the Russian soldiers out of Soledar which is located northeast of Bakhmut.

Russia’s Private Army Eyes Natural Resources

The Russian mercenaries from Wagner have figured out an interesting byproduct in Bakhmut. The Institute for the Study of War said on January 8 that Donbas city has minerals such as salt and gypsum in mines around Bakhmut. Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin is never one to leave money on the table and Wagner wants to rule Bakhmut and take advantage of these resources.

The Mines Are Helping the Defenders 

The mines also have military value because Ukrainian defenders of the city are believed to be recuperating underground and getting ammunition and supplies there, then emerging topside to force the Russians back. Prigozhin thinks the mines have “unique and historic defenses” that act as a “network of underground cities.”

The Ukrainians Are Hanging In There

The Ukrainians are showing strength and taking positions around Soledar and Bakhmut. Meanwhile, the Russian conscripts have been probing the defenders and looking for weak spots then attempting to pour mercenaries and other experienced fighters into the breach. But the Russians are finding these tactics are tough sledding. The battles for Bakhmut and Soledar have become a fight that has devolved into major attrition for both sides. Russia has been trying to take Bakhmut for around six months as the Ukrainian forces have not yielded.

Ukrainian President Is Focusing His Forces in Bakhmut

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is remaining defiant. “Bakhmut is holding out against all odds,” Zelensky said in a January 8 address. “And although most of the city is destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at the Russian offensive there.”

Ukraine is sending generals to the front lines to rally troops. The towns do not have much strategic significance and if one side or the other takes the area, it will only serve as a short-term tactical win as the victor is likely to be counter-attacked.

The U.S. Is Becoming More Generous with Ukraine

The United States has observed the brutal fighting and has sent 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 18 155mm self-propelled Paladin howitzers, the most advanced artillery system in the U.S. Army. It is not clear if that military hardware will be sent to the Bakhmut front as the Ukrainians will have to be trained on the systems. The Paladins will take longer for Ukrainian troops to familiarize themselves, but the Bradleys could enter the fray much faster.

Ukraine Really Wants Tanks

It will be interesting to see if the Americans will choose to send M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Germany will send Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine as well. France has chosen to supply armored reconnaissance combat vehicles. Kyiv really wants Abrams or Leopard main battle tanks, but this shows that the Ukrainian allies are upping the ante and that tanks could someday be part of a future package.

Ukraine has to be given credit for defending Bakhmut so steadfastly and the extra armored vehicles and artillery will help, but Russia is determined too.

The Bakhmut area of operations will be one to watch going forward and fighting there will likely go back and forth with both sides sending reinforcements into the meat grinder until a winner can be decided.

Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. GhostTomahawk

    January 9, 2023 at 7:19 pm

    Time to let Ukraine stand on their own 2 feet. They’ve spent more western money than Russia spends in a year. They’ve received and sold more equipment on the black market than they’ve lost on the battlefield.

    Time to turn off the tap as we’re getting played.

  2. Foreigner

    January 9, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    @ghosttomahawk. I find it interesting that this would be your reply. Turkey pays the west and pretty much allied to the Russians. So if we still keep them around then we can carry on supporting ukraine? At least they seem to be doing something right….

  3. Foreigner

    January 9, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    *turkey plays the west* misplelling there…

  4. Friend

    January 9, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    What a garbage news recap mixed in with the tone of a local american garbage sports reporter. You must have written for a school paper.
    No, Ukraine really doesn’t want tanks. It’s just that you really really don’t want to give tanks. You’re scared shitless of the bomb. I mean this is a fact, you’re just awful at making it seem like an opinion.
    And, no, those salt mines are not the goal. The goal again is to give your weak brain a cop out. Oh if we only gave them those mines in the middleoffucknowhere, maybe they won’t drop the bomb on us.
    There’s 5 mines of Titanium in Dnipro. You actually need that to make Airbus so of course NATO will do their best to help russia capture them

  5. TheDon

    January 9, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    I just looked at google maps of Bakhmut.
    Its about 2mile x 2mile square.
    Its the size of a small rural farming town.

    This isnt much different tan many of the small cities in syria the Russians helped defend.

    Whats incredible is if u read the news so many shells have hit it should be dust, and, so many lives lost for a non stratigic swath of land, unless theres more than salt in the mine.

    So sad
    Theres another 100000 Russians and probably Ukrainians which will die for very little land.

    Ukraine wins the history hero over Putin independent of long game.

    Its a sad position.
    Putin warned Ukraine with Crimea. They were ready this time.

    Its time to stop the war.
    You are fighting family.

    Did I miss something?

  6. TheDon

    January 9, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    When Ukraine takes out Wagner, games over.

  7. MortenHJ

    January 10, 2023 at 2:40 am

    This is the best bang for the buck the US can get considering defence spending.

    Weakening Russias military capabilty (rises US’ capability in comparison), getting rid of old stock material, sending a message to China and North Korea, testing of Nato’s equipement in real battle, I could go on….

  8. tarek

    January 10, 2023 at 5:54 am

    hey brenny…soledar is about to fall same in artemovsk….next station adviivka and the final step kramastorsk /slaviansk… lyman jupiansk karkov will follow soon… nikolaiv and odessa after that ….u can keep the rest

  9. Злой русский пьяный медведь с балалайкой

    January 10, 2023 at 11:32 pm

    If the Author answered a few questions, I would be very happy:
    Question 1: where did Zelensky’s army of one million (declared by him) disappear? Where are all these disappeared hundreds of thousands of HFU?
    Question 2: where did several thousand tanks, several thousand armored vehicles, tens of thousands of artillery systems, hundreds of planes and helicopters of Ukraine, which were left by the USSR, which were in Ukraine until 24.02.2022, disappear?
    Question 3: where did several hundred armored vehicles, several hundred artillery systems, dozens of aircraft and helicopters of Ukraine disappear, and which were supplied by the West, which were trophy ones, which were in Ukraine after 02/24/2022?
    Question 4: Why is Zaluzhny asking for weapons in the amount corresponding to European armies at the level of Great Britain?
    Afterword: it seems to me that the victorious reports of the invincibility of Ukraine are premature.
    The strength of Russia is shown in the confrontation with Ukraine and 70 countries, one way or another helping Bandera Ukraine.

  10. Serhio

    January 16, 2023 at 3:04 am

    A festival of German culture is taking place in Ukraine. Fans of the German composer are at war with fans of the unrecognized Austrian painter. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *