The war in Ukraine is flaring up as the Russian military is trying to capture the Donbas. On day 349 of the war, the Russian forces are still looking for a breakthrough that would bring them closer to achieving their goals in Ukraine.
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The fiercest fighting is taking place in the town of Bakhmut in the Donbas.
Fighting For Bakhmut
For the better part of seven months, the Ukrainian military has been putting up fierce resistance in Bakhmut. But the Russian forces have been moving closer every day, though at the cost of tens of thousands of troops.
Initially, the Russian forces tried to capture the town with frontal assaults. But that got them nowhere, and the Russian commanders had to adjust their approach and concentrate on the flanks. After the capture of the small salt mining town of Soledar to the north of Bakhmut, the Russian forces are now concentrating their efforts to the south in an apparent attempt to encircle the town.
The two main highways that lead into the town (M03 and H32) are now threatened by direct Russian fire, thus jeopardizing the Ukrainian lines of communication.
In the first months of the assault against Bakhmut, the Russian military had the lead in Ukraine.
Then, after weeks of little to no progress, the infamous private military company Wagner Group assumed the primary role in the attack.
Using waves of convicts, Wagner Group managed to move closer to the town, but with horrific casualties.
The Russian military is back in command of the operation, though Wagner Group does maintain a supporting role.
Ironically, Bakhmut doesn’t have any strategic value. It is just another town in the Donbas, and the Ukrainian forces could easily set up new defenses to the west. However, Bakhmut has become a political and psychological objective. For the Ukrainians, holding on to Bakhmut means that large Russian forces can’t attack elsewhere—at least for the time being. For the Russians, capturing Bakhmut will give Russian President Vladimir Putin a much-needed political victory.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 133,190 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number),
Destroyed equipment includes: 294 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 284 attack and transport helicopters, 3,245 tanks, 2,232 artillery pieces, 6,443 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 461 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,107 vehicles and fuel tanks, 227 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,958 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 208 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 796 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
U.S. and Western estimates put the Russian casualties in Ukraine close to 200,000.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.