Can Putin make progress in Ukraine? In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) suggested that Russian forces will likely continue to gain ground near the city of Bakhmut in the Eastern Donbas region, but the Kremlin will be unable to make any significant breakthroughs.
The Russian military had previously launched an unsuccessful assault on the same area last November, the MoD reported.
“In the last three days, Russia has likely developed its probing attacks around the towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar into a more concerted assault,” the MoD explained, adding, that the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade had attempted its assault just over two months again, while elements of the same unit are once again in engaged in fighting.
Russian commanders may now be aiming to develop a new axis of advance, and may also seek to divert Ukrainian forces from the heavily contested Bakhmut sector.
“There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector,” the MoD added. “However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.”
The report from British intelligence comes as the Kremlin has made significant advances near Bakhmut, a city of some 71,000 people, over the last two weeks. It is the biggest gain in the war for Russia since Ukraine took back most of the territory last year.
The historic city, which dates back to the early 18th century, now lies mostly in ruins.
Kyiv reported on Tuesday that its forces had repelled assaults on Vuhledar and Blahodatne, a village just north of Bakhmut.
Ukraine Is a A Meat Grinder for Russia
The fighting in Eastern Ukraine has repeatedly been compared to that of the Western Front during the First World War, and according to a former U.S. lawmaker, Russia is simply “throwing meat into a grinder.”
That was the opinion of former Rep. Richard Ojeda (D-W.Va), who had previously served in the U.S. Army from 1989-2014.
“These losses are unsustainable. Putin is throwing meat into the grinder and it’s only getting worse. Tanks are about to be injected into this war that are far more capable than that of Russias. Russia was a paper Tiger and Ukraine proved that!,” Ojeda said via social media on Saturday.
The former U.S. Army officer noted that Russian losses could have exceeded 125,000 men, while it has lost nearly 3,200 tanks and almost 300 combat planes. That included 800 Russian soldiers who were killed just late last week.
According to estimates from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, some 382,000 Russian soldiers may have also been wounded, while another 1,000 have been taken prisoner.
There were also reports on Tuesday that Human Rights Watch has called upon Kyiv to investigate accusations that Ukrainian forces deployed thousands of rocket-fire antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium to slow the advance of Russian forces.
Human Rights Watch has said the use of such ordnance violates international humanitarian law because the devices cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants. Russia has previously employed antipersonnel landmines, while Ukraine has maintained it has only deployed anti-tank and anti-vehicle mines. The international watchdog group published three reports documenting Russia’s use of antipersonnel landmines.
Though Russia has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty, Ukraine is a signatory. Upwards of 30 percent of Ukraine could be contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, a report from last year warned.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.