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1943 Stalingrad vs. 2023 Bakhmut: A Decisive Battle That Decides the Ukraine War?

A Soldier assigned to the 109th Transportation Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, U.S. Army Alaska, handles a M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon during live-fire training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 12, 2017. The Soldiers of 17th CSSB recently completed a series of live-fire training events that honed their skills on a variety of weapon systems to include: the M4 carbine, the M9 pistol, the M203 grenade launcher, and the M136E1 AT4-CS confined space light anti-armor weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Like the city of Stalingrad during World War II, the town of Bakhmut is of moderate tactical significance, as it commands a number of important road junctions in the Donbas and its capture would put other Ukrainian positions at greater risk. Also like Stalingrad, the two sides have placed a great deal of emotional importance to holding or taking the city. The side that emerges from this fight victorious may well also set the stage for winning the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defiantly visited Bakhmut on December 20, 2022, ignoring the dangers of the active combat zone, and declared “Bakhmut fortress” would remain “unconquered by the enemy.” Two days later, the leader of PMC Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom Putin had put in charge of capturing Bakhmut, mockingly offered “dear Vladimir Alaxandrovich” to meet in Bakhmut, “if you have not yet left.” The next month, Zelensky returned the favor, mocking Prigozhin for his public disputes with Moscow, claiming the spats were “a clear signal of failure of the enemy.”

Not to be deterred, in early February Prigozhin oddly challenged Zelensky to an aerial duel to settle matters. Meanwhile, on the battlefield both Zelensky’s troops and Prigozhin’s forces continued to pour in massive amounts of troops and reinforcements, each reportedly suffering egregious numbers of casualties. After appearing to be considering withdrawing from Bakhmut on March 3, Prigozhin that same day made a video publicly calling for Zelensky to withdraw. On Monday, Zelensky made his reply, saying he and his senior generals vowed “not to retreat” and in fact to further reinforce his defenders. 

The stage appears to be set for a similar battle of wills between Russia and Ukraine over Bakhmut as happened during World War II between Germany and the USSR over Stalingrad. 

Ukraine could have withdrawn a month ago, in good military order, to previously prepared defensive positions further to the west, from which they would have been in a stronger and more defensible position. Ironically, though Russia would have had a symbolic victory with the occupation of Bakhmut, their tactical challenge would have increased, as trying to storm Ukraine’s stronger defensive positions to the west would have been far more costly. 

But Zelensky has thrown down the gauntlet to Russia by sending in yet more reinforcements, challenging Prigozhin and Putin to see if they are willing and able to continue the assault on the city and to pay the mounting casualty counts. As of now, it is uncertain how this military and personality struggle will eventually play out.

Where Things go from Here

It could be that like Germany in October 1942 came tantalizingly close to achieving their tactical objectives of reaching the Volga River – but failed – the months’ long Russian attack that has Prigozhin’s men literally a few kilometers from completing the ring surrounding Bakhmut (and sealing the fate of the 10,000 Ukrainian defenders), could likewise fail. If that happens, if Ukraine hangs on to the city, they could win a major tactical and psychological victory. 

Russia, in that case, will have paid a stunning bill in the loss of thousands of its troops, and yet been unable to wrest it from Ukraine. Such a failure could result in the collapse of Wagner as an effective military force over some period of time, possibly fatally staining Prigozhin’s reputation, and sending a dark, discouraging cloud over the Russian military in the Donbas. Simultaneously, obviously, preventing Russia from capturing Bakhmut would be a major psychological shot-in-the-arm for the entire Ukrainian Armed Forces.

If, on the other hand, Wagner is able to close off the pincers in the coming weeks despite Ukraine’s reinforcements, the loss to Zelensky’s forces could be devastating. Not only would Ukraine have been driven out of the city, they would likely suffer the loss of as many as 10,000 additional troops killed, wounded, or captured. Already Ukraine’s spring or summer offensives have been put at risk, as many of the troops Kyiv had earmarked for use in the north and south have been diverted to hold Bakhmut. 

If Zelensky loses too many more troops – whether successful or not in Bakhmut – the striking power of their spring or summer offensive will be materially lower. That is a bigger risk than appears. Ukraine has been building an offensive capacity for months, equipping them with some new NATO kit, training from Western militaries, and keeping them fresh by refusing to send them to fight at the front. If this force is defeated this spring, if they fail to defeat the Russian formations in the Donbas or Zaporizhia directions, there may not be any offensive potential remaining.

One other factor that was decisive in determining the outcome of the battle for Stalingrad was the launch of the massive Soviet offensive of Operation Uranus. Had Stalin not had that force to plow into the flanks of the Germans and eventually cut off their resupply and reinforcements, it is conceivable the Wehrmacht might have held their ground on the western side of Stalingrad for months, possibly launching a new offensive in the spring or summer and punching through to the Volga. 

It remains to be seen whether either the Russians or the Ukrainians have the capacity (or intent) to launch a large-scale offensive elsewhere to isolate the opponent’s forces in or near Bakhmut. If one can put the rear area of the other at risk, the city could fall and the loser suffer a major tactical setback.

The thing about waging an attrition battle – with or without a major counterattack – in which one sacrifices large numbers of troops in an effort to bleed their opponent dry, is that it’s a double-edged sword. As is self-evident, Russia has tens of millions more men from which to draw on subsequent rounds of mobilization than Ukraine. There is presently no evidence that the Russian population is close to reaching the point it would turn on the Kremlin, and thus if more troops are needed, Putin appears able to procure them. It is far from certain Kyiv has the capacity to match mobilized troops with Moscow.

Just as the Soviet victory over Hitler’s Germany was still two years away after the USSR’s victory at Stalingrad, this war will also continue after the fate of Bakhmut has been decided. But the cost paid by the losing side could, like the Battle of Stalingrad 80 years ago, tilt the conflict in the victor’s favor, creating a deficit in the ledger of the loser that can never be fully reversed. Only time will tell, but the stakes in the Battle of Bakhmut couldn’t be higher.

Author Biography and Expertise

A 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis.

Written By

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.



  1. Gary Jacobs

    March 10, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    LoL, Davis.

    Only in your wildest dreams will Ukraine lose 10,000 more men in Bakhmut.

    As well, You conveniently ignore the high ground immediately to the west of Bakhmut that Ukraine can fall back to if they feel the need. Russian forces will then be in another shooting gallery in the basin below.

    Bakhmut will not be a decisive battle one way or the other in and of the geography itself.

    It is all about the ratio of dead Russians to dead Ukrainians. Right now NATO estimates Russian losses at 5 for every one Ukrainian. IF Ukraine can maintain that, they likely choose to hold Bakhmut for a while.

    As well, just when the Russians got so heavily focused on Bakhmut… word comes that 20km south of Bakhmut along the highway east of the city of Toresk, Ukrainian forces reportedly launched a counteroffensive that pushed Russian troops back over a kilometer and placed control over the town of Mayorsk, which has been under Russian occupation for weeks, back into dispute.

    Fighting also appears to be ongoing at two small villages—Shumy and Pivdenne—just south of Mayorsk.

    The lines in this area appear to be manned by mobilized forces for the “DNR” rather than either Wagner or regular Russian military, most of which has been dedicated to the assault on Bakhmut and the continued assaults on Vuhledar, another 90 km to the southwest.

    It’s possible that the extended effort to capture Bakhmut has created a weak spot in the Russian lines along this highway.

    One thing is certain: Russia can’t afford a major breakthrough at this location because that highway through Mayorsk allows Ukraine to threaten Russian occupation over a whole series of cities, including some much bigger than Bakhmut.

    Mayorsk is an inner suburb of the city of Horlivka. That city has a population of near 300,000 and has been controlled by Russian occupation forces since 2014.

    That means the move toward Mayorsk isnt just recovering a small town that was lost to Russian occupation some time ago… it presents the possibility that Ukraine could break through into an area that was part of the DNR at the outset of Russia’s 2022 naked aggression.

    Is it too early to be making much of what is. Only time will tell how big of a force has been committed and how deep this thrust will be.

    But it is notable that Russian sources are reporting that in response to Ukrainian forces entering Mayorsk, they have shelled other villages in the area. This would seem to indicate the Russians have not been all that successful in halting the Ukrainian advance.

    At the very least, the Ukrainian move at Mayorsk will surely remind Russia, and people like Davis that pretend Bakhmut will be some decisive battle, that there is more to this area of the front than Bakhmut.

    Also, unlike the Russians at Vuhledar, Ukraine apparently still understands how to launch a successful attack.

    This also indicates that the Ukrainian forces are still probing for weakness in the Russian line rather than just being reactive to attacks on Bakhmut.

    And it appears they have more forces available to do that than “analysts” like Davis would lead readers to believe.

    Again, time will tell how big of force they omitted to this counter attack, but it has been big enough to make the news, and force the Russians to react with shelling villages.

  2. Neil Ross

    March 10, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    I may be wrong, but the decisive event that occurred in the battle for Stalingrad was that the Soviets were able to encircle and force a large German force to surrender its soldiers along with their equipment? I don’t see this happening in Bakhmut with either side.

    I still think the UAR troops will withdraw within a week to more defensible positions.

  3. Neil Ross

    March 10, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    And as to Roger Bacon’s comment from Davis’ previous article, I agree that there is no point in comparing the battle for Bahkmut to the battle for Stalingrad. Just more war porn.

    I would like to hear Davis’ opinion on what apparently was an attack on energy infrastructure outside the confines of the current battlefield which was likely either aided or executed by members of NATO countries.

    Historically the U.S. has done this in the past, in Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan and Syria (probably others). I am having difficulty remembering similar actions by either the Soviet Union or Russia, but feel free to correct me.

  4. Commentar

    March 10, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    Bakhmut and stalingrad share few similarities.

    Instead, Mr Davis should write about (the resemblance to) Tarnopol whose story is closer to the story of bakhmut.

    In march & april of 1944, tarnopol attracted the attention of the red army due to its rail and road links to many other cities in western ukraine and eastern poland.

    Today, in march 2023, bakhmut is the main gateway to other towns in donetsk still in the hands of the ukrainian armed forces and capture of bakhmut is central to the entire liberation of donbass.

    In both places, you find the fascists talking about no withdrawal, to defend to tbe last bullet, last shell and last drop of blood.

    In ww2, the germans talked about freedom being their goal and victory being their banner. No different from what zelenskiyy and his backers are busily mumbling about today.

    But tarnopol then and now bakhmut unmask their lies and falsehoods. In both places the fascists failed to read the writing on the wall on account of their pumped up ego and the result always is certain defeat.

  5. David Chang

    March 10, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    The first person who implement the policy of total war, Napoleon, wage war on Russia and lose the war; the second people who implement the policy of total war, Hitler, wage war on Russia and lose the war.

    So we shall confess and repent to God, and pray to God, may God has mercy on the next people who implement the policy of total war, will not make major risk.

    God bless America.

  6. 403Forbidden

    March 10, 2023 at 11:31 pm

    The battle of bakhmut should be a WAKE-UP call for zelenskiyy.

    His forces are facing defeat or staring defeat in the face, but NATO airplanes aren’t showing up, unlike in march 1999.

    In March 1999, NATO warplanes initiated a three-month relentless & merciless air campaign to aid its islamist kosovo liberation army ally. It was an unmitigated success.

    But today, nothing of that sort is taking place in bakhmut. Why ? Why ?

    Reason is or was that the federal republic of yugoslavia in march 1999 had no nuclear weapons.

    But, Russia is altogether a different kettle of fish. It has the second largest immediately-usable nuke arsenal in the world today.

    That’s the big DIFFERENCE, Mr zelenskiyy. Wake up, now !

  7. Enfield

    March 11, 2023 at 4:46 am

    Indeed, there are many similarities but also many differences and perhaps the greatest difference is that the Red giant does not use its regular troops in this battle. Winning or losing this battle rests on the shoulders of DPR forces, Chechen fighters and a private entrepreneur’s own army fighters. Sure, DPR forces are integrated within the Red giant’s army with a helping hand from the Red giant’s Airforce but regular troops from the Red giant are conspicuous by their absence.

    It remains to be seen if it was the right decision by the Red giant.

    It can be difficult to compare with Stalingrad because there were hundreds of thousands of men in a gigantic show of force that ended in favor of the stronger.

  8. Walker

    March 11, 2023 at 7:09 am

    One thing I bet Davis isn’t willing to examine is how Bakhmut could play a role in the defeat of Russia even if Ukraine does surrender the city.

  9. from Russia with love

    March 11, 2023 at 8:14 am

    Zelensky is trapped in his own ideology and propaganda. Kyiv created from Artemovsk (temporarily Bakhmut) a symbol of perseverance and cannot leave it. fresh meat will be driven there along country roads that are already under constant fire control of the Russian army. By the way, the Ukrainians are already calling the only way to Artemovsk “Russian shooting gallery” and there is every reason for this. the roads are littered with destroyed Ukrainian armor and cars.
    At the same time, it makes no sense for Russia to rush. Russia continues to destroy Ukrainian fortified areas using overwhelming superiority in artillery. at the same time, Ukrainian troops are forced to constantly attempt counterattacks, which leads to even greater losses not only in personnel, but also in the loss of previously occupied positions. at the moment, the record for the Darwin award belongs to a Ukrainian who was mobilized and killed in Artemovsk 3 days later. 3 days from mobilization to death.
    the only “advantage” of Ukraine is the useless Ukrainians. they can be sent in thousands to their deaths, and both the Ukrainian authorities and Western countries do not give a damn about this, but this resource is running out. Russia produces millions of shells a year, but Ukraine does not give birth to millions of Ukrainians, especially of military age. soon there will be nothing to plug holes in the defense.

  10. ZaSu

    March 11, 2023 at 8:22 am

    Soon Putin will open another front and Ukraine will have to divert resources if this city does not completely fall soon.
    A very good tell that it is about to fall is the western press is publishing many Ukrainian official voices about how dire it is. The usual happy talk (propoganda) about impending victory over hapless/unhappy Russian troops who are trying to run instead of fighting is down to the obligatory inclusion in every story but the focus is trending towards how these hapless troops are about to take it.

  11. Jim

    March 11, 2023 at 10:03 am

    It’s a Grind.

    To the victor… goes mud & roads… to where… further Grinds.

    The city of Bakhmut is riddled, fractured concrete & splintered wood… burned out hulks littering the landscape… men spent to the point of exhaustion.

    The wages of war.

  12. Webej

    March 11, 2023 at 11:22 am

    «the fascists failed to read the writing on the wall»

    In the original story true as well: it was their last night.
    It is characteristic of such death cults that they are impelled toward suicide, like H in his bunker. Ukr could have sat down to talk on 23 Feb when the Russians moved troops to Donetsk, but shelled them instead. Who picks a fight with an elephant or a bear? Only insane people. A suicide mission from the start.
    The Nazi ideology reinforces them: The idea that it is glorious to die on the the field of battle so that you can go to Walhalla. Nazism at its core is the glorification and worship of “force”; a celebration of violent death !

  13. Webej

    March 11, 2023 at 11:31 am

    The author has changed his tune on Bakhmut, now admitting grudgingly its «moderate tactical significance», like that of Stalingrad, instead of doubling down on the purely symbolic narrative.

    But with any war of attrition, the key is sustainability, defined by materiel & the ratio of losses. There is no evidence for the copium asserted by many that Bakhmut is a trap in which UA is grinding down Russia by astonishing ratios. Au contraire, all the extent evidence supports the notion that the ratio of Ukrainian to Russian casualties favors Russia more each day it continues.

  14. Atm

    March 11, 2023 at 11:37 am

    The idea that Bakhmut is not strategically important is dead wrong. In the old days before global warming you could move armor artillery and supplies over frozen ground, now they move by road even in winter and this fact changes the battle and Bakhmut’s importance, because it is located in an idea place to attack major lines of communication coming and going.

    Bakhmut area is a hard target because it lays over salt mines with thousands of miles of tunnels, additionally it is a weapons depot with enough supplies to equip many armies. All you have to do is move men in and they can be equipped and trained in the massive underground tunnels. Even gas attacks cannot take out these tunnels.

  15. Gary Jacobs

    March 11, 2023 at 11:42 am

    From Russia with Fraud,

    Watching you straining to carry water for Putin is almost comical. Especially referring to mobilized personnel. The stories on the Ukrainians side of 3days is questionable at best.

    But let’s say any part of that is true. At least they have a purpose. They are defending their homeland against Russia’s naked aggression. They merely need to grind down the Russian invaders until the summer when the mud is dry and 400+ new tanks, close to 1000 IFVs/APCs arrive, along with western training in combined arms and breaching tactics can be employed.

    Russia has a far bigger problem on its hands with its mobilized troops. Dozens of videos have appeared online of Russians complaining about their conditions.

    The media outlet Verstka notes a sudden rise in the number of such videos. The content is always the same: 5 to 10 men identify their military unit and their region of origin. Then they make complaints, while affirming their patriotism.

    While videos by the wives and mothers of Russia’s mobilised focus on their material conditions and military unpreparedness, the men dispute their commanders and complain of being used as cannon fodder.

    It is possible that these videos are just the tip of the iceberg. We do not know much about insubordination and conflict among the Russian forces on the front line.

    It is therefore difficult to draw firm conclusions about the mood of the troops on a large scale.

    What the videos highlight, however, is the risk that the Russian state has exposed itself to by choosing to mobilise: the mobilised are civilians, attached to their former lives and above all connected. Some of them find the resources and courage to speak out.

    These men’s stories are already frequently about military operations and tactics that “don’t make sense”.

    Most military observers, other than apologists like Daniel Davis, frequently note that many of Russia’s moves dont make sense.

    On their return to civilian life, they will convey an image of the war that is different from that of the media, and from that of the pro regime “war correspondents”.

    The Russian regime is good at controlling demonstrations and political opposition. It is not good at controlling what circulates on the Internet, nor at controlling images in general in this war.

    “Loyal” and connected protest can be difficult to manage, and Russia has a history of angry soldiers coming home from defeats on the battlefield and turning against the people who sent them off to die stupidly with bad strategy.

    Lastly, on your inversion of reality to pretend that Artemovsk is the permanent name is a fallacy of history. The Soviets created that name in 1924.

    The history of Bakhmut goes back far further, to 1571. I’m no math wizard but it’s pretty clear which is temporary…and it isnt Bakhmut.

    Considering the scope of Soviet atrocities in Ukraine, most rational people would understand exactly why the Ukrainians would want to go back to the original name.

    Bottom line: Putin’s propaganda is wearing thin, even with Russian soldiers. But your silly attempt to erase hundreds of years of Bakhmut’s history is a microcosm of Russian imperialism and chauvinism.

    I will continue to call BS on all that.

  16. TotallyNotBiased

    March 11, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    @from russia, in August u wrote in comments that Bakhmut was about to fall in 2 weeks.
    what happened there?????

  17. Jim

    March 11, 2023 at 1:54 pm

    Control or destroy.


    …”characteristic of such death cults that they are impelled toward suicide”

    So much easier when somebody else is doing the dying.

    The white glove neo-Nazi in Kiev aren’t doing the dying.

    They have somebody else do that.

    For now!

  18. Walker

    March 11, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    To the Russian trolls.

    A couple weeks ago the Ukranians said they wouldn’t hold the city indefinitely and that they would pull out soon if things didn’t improve to ensure they weren’t completely surrounded. They start preparing for a tactical withdrawal. Then days later talk of withdrawing dwindled and talk of holding it for good increasingly came up.

    During this same time frame Wagnerites increased their complaints that they weren’t being given the ammunition they needed to win. But no one ever on the Russian side made any comment about not having the city as their first priority.

    So my question to you is pretty simple. Why would Ukraine be initially ready to withdraw and then change their mind? And what happened over the last couple weeks?

    I myself was worried that Ukraine would stay too long and get surrounded. But the Ukrainian government seemed to be thinking strategically, so I took that as comforting for the Ukrainian side. On the Russian side, it was pretty obvious that for months this is some sort of holy grail they just have to have at any cost.

    So to me, it has become clear that something on the ground has changed that has been moved up the Ukrainian chain of command faster than what we see based only on the line of contact. I don’t know what that change is, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

    Meantime when we read the commentary from you Russians it is always that Russia is going to be taking the city within the next couple weeks. Something that you have been saying for 6 months now. But you go on about how Russia is going to surround thousands of Ukrainian troops when the Ukrainian government said they would withdraw before that could happen.

    To me this means one thing, Ukraine is staying in Bakhmut because it makes tactical sense to them. There can only be one reason for this. It is tactically better keeping it than giving it up. Which means that Ukrainians are giving more than receiving there. Which completely negates everything you Russians are saying. At the same time, when watching the Russians, they aren’t going at it with confidence, they are instead going at it with dreaded determination. While you guys are on here spouting nonsense that makes absolutely no sense and if it were correct, Russia would have won this war already many times over. And yet it is clear to me that for the losses Ukraine is taking, it must be giving the Russians hell and they seem to be looking at it as an opportunity to at least keep Russia occupied.

    I’m still not ready to say that Russia can’t take the city. But I am saying that it looks a bit less likely today than it did two weeks ago. And if you Russians aren’t worried, I really think you should be. But then again, allowing Putin to completely corrupt your country sealed your future downfall. That is a given. No country can be run like a criminal organization for very long. But it really should have become obvious to you and the entire world that as soon as Russia started turning towards terroristic approach to the war that basically it means you already lost. Unfortunately people like Davis here really aren’t too bright. And that is why you Russians love him so much.

  19. JamesBond

    March 11, 2023 at 9:47 pm

    This just in..
    The Chinese ink a deal between the Saudi’s and the Iranians.
    The Saudi’s resume diplomatic relations with Iran, and Iran orders new SU-35’s from Russia.
    While banks are failing in the U.S.
    Forget about Bakhmut and Ukraine.
    It’s a done deal.
    You should be worrying the U.S. and the EU.
    The rest of the world is onto your ruse, and disgusted by it.

  20. Webej

    March 12, 2023 at 1:11 am

    @Gary «They are defending their homeland»

    And what is their homeland? The Donbas was always Russian territory, and only became part of a province called Ukraine because of Communists who thought nationality was outdated and needed to make place for Soviet international man. 90% of the people always voted one way when 90% of the people in Western Ukraine (Poland/Austrian Empire) voted the other way. This all started as a civil war with LDNR territorial brigades of the UA army switching sides after the right-wing putsch. The people in those LDNR brigades are fighting for their homeland more clearly than anybody (like Polish mercenaries and Nato commanders, etc.). And they are fighting the people who keep saying Heil Hitler, just as their spiritual grandfathers while killing Jews, Poles, and Gypsies.

  21. Webej

    March 12, 2023 at 1:23 am

    It is not a war. If it were a war, they would have bombed Bankova, and all the electricity generation and gas pipelines would be gone (like NATO in Yugoslavia), and they wouldn’t be giving old Joe and Z himself guarantees of safety.
    You are putting a little too much weight on what Prigozhin, who obviously enjoys trolling, is saying instead of doing. And have you forgotten what he said about his mandate? We are not here in the first instance to take Bakhmut, but to destroy the UA army.

    By the way, countries are run like criminal organizations all the time. In fact, the State is the original form of a protection racket. And the UA is itself a prime example, run by a despot who brokers no opposition or even freedom of thought.

  22. PlutOn

    March 12, 2023 at 1:24 am

    @Walker Why would Ukraine be initially ready to withdraw and then change their mind? And what happened over the last couple weeks?
    Disinformation worked (lack of ammunition and conflict between PMC Wagner and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)
    It is important for Russian forces that the enemy be confident in his ability to attack.

  23. Johnny Ray

    March 12, 2023 at 8:25 am

    Prigozhin ispublicly whining that Wagner needs 10,000 tons of ammunition per month to win Bakhmut. Estimates are the supply would cost from half to one billion dollars PER MONTH. Most needed are artillery shells and rifle cartridges. That seems like a lot of ammo and money to conquer one, small inconsequential town.

    Regardless, according to Wikipedia the first historical mention of Bakhmut dates from 1571, when Ivan the Terrible, to protect the southern border of the Russian state from Crimean slave raiders, ordered building border fortifications, described as a guard-fort named after the nearby Bakhmutovka River.

    As time went on, it became more fortified over the years and a crossroads for many European battles. In short, it’s been known as a fortress city for centuries.

    So, there must be something, not necessarily tangible, about the place that makes it militarily relevant and worth fight for, or protecting.

    The point is, this is not Bakhmut’s first rodeo. I would imagine there is something about the place that makes it different than it’s surroundings and lending to it’s history as a fortified and fought over city.

    And, within that historical context, Wagner Russians are right now on the east side of the river, trying to overtake Ukrainians on the west side of the river, with the land in between hotly contested and becoming a killing ground of sorts for Russians attempting to ford the river.

    Seems history runs in circles.

  24. Walker

    March 12, 2023 at 10:00 am

    @Webej; Rotflmao! nuff said.

    @Pluton; only Russians are stupid enough to fall for Russian propaganda. Case in point the fake Mossad news that came out of Turkey. I couldn’t even count all of you trolls that repeated that crap when it was obvious that it had no connection to reality.

  25. Gary Jacobs

    March 12, 2023 at 10:47 am


    LoL… you continue to pretend that a country led by a Jew who lost family in the Holocaust is somehow led by a neo nazi.

    In the face of overwhelming evidence repeatedly proving you have no grasp on the the reality of the right in Ukraine, or how their sense of nationalism has been affected by centuries of brutal Russian imperialism inflicted upon them… you sound like a spoiled child not getting your way everytime you cry ‘nazi’ in this crowded room.

    And you continue to not get your way.

    The adults in the room who actually understand the situation are here to set the record straight.

    Your Nazi fantasy world has near Zero relation to reality.

    As usual, the inverse of your faux notion of smarts is far closer to reality than what you post.

    It is Russia supporting every right wing loon from Le Pen in France to Orban in Hungary, and beyond. As well as having their own home grown fascists fighting for Russia in Ukraine.

  26. Gary Jacobs

    March 12, 2023 at 11:07 am


    LoL, you continue to peddle Putin’s talking points about the scary right wingers, and the supposed Russian roots of the Donbas. Russification of an area does not make it naturally Russian.

    It is true that there was more of a pro-Russian sentiment in that area… yet before Russia’s invasion in 2014, and the pro-EU protests throughout the country, far less than half, and certainly not a majority…were in favor of joining Russia.

    Igor Girkin’s shock troops leading a group of criminals to take control of the Donbas does not make it a legit Russian region.

    You continuing to pretend that is is ‘naturally Russian’ or whatever, ignores far more evidence to the contrary.

    As well, now that so many of their men have been conscripted and used as canon fodder by Russia’s naked aggression against the rest of Ukraine, I would not at all be surprised if support for Russia in the DNR and LNR is in the mid single digits.

  27. Neil Ross

    March 12, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    Yes, only Russians are stupid enough to believe propaganda. Just finished reading the CNN article on the Black Cat squadron. The only U2 spy planes ever shot down were over Russia and Cuba, so the propaganda said. Weather reconnaissance was a dangerous operation over China.

    Why delay your withdrawl from Bahkmut? To provide a diversionary news story while you release your Nord Stream counter story. Of course, I will be totally wrong in my speculations if UAR forces are still defending Bahkmut two weeks from now.

  28. phil stacy

    March 12, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    If there is a shortage of ammo American federal agencies like the Post Office could send their multi million dollar stockpiles.

  29. Jim

    March 12, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Gary, everybody knows about Stephan Bandera, how he’s a hero to the leadership in Kiev, they name streets after him, their parliament sends out a celebratory tweet on his birthday Jan. 1st., how Kiev does torch light parades to celebrate Stephan Bandera, neo-Nazi, mass murderer of Russians, Poles, and Jews, collaborationist with Nazi Germany.

    Bandera ideology is kill Russians, Poles, and Jews, whoever it takes to be murdered for Ukraine independence… persecute or murder anybody who doesn’t agree with their ruthless ideology.

    Everybody knows about the Azov Battalion and their neo-Nazi ideology and Nazi symbols, tattoos, and other neo-Nazi paraphernalia… Azov is not the only neo-Nazi battalion.

    What most people don’t know is how anybody who speaks Russian is persecuted and might end up taped to a lamp post… or worse.

    Videos exist showing armored troop carriers full of soldiers doing the classic one-armed salute with prompting from an officer.

    How minorities are badly treated, how opponents of the regime often end up in jail or disappear. Same with journalists who expose the ugly, corrupt, underbelly of the murderous neo-Nazi regime in Kiev.

    How after 2014 many neo-Nazi were in parliament, even the speaker of the Rada, their parliament, for several years was a neo-Nazi.

    How Kiev sets up summer camps for kids where they teach Bandera ideology to the kids, to hate Russians, want to kill Russians, like the German Nazis did in the 1930’s.

    Gary, you bet on the wrong horse… you bet on a neo-Nazi horse, and you should be ashamed, but you aren’t because… the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    So, yes, I will continue to call the Kiev regime, neo-Nazi… my dad piloted B-24 bombers over Nazi Germany to rid the European Continent of Nazism, he didn’t do that so the U. S. government would turn around and support neo-Nazi in 21st Century Europe… with all the trouble it has brought.

    Kiev is neo-Nazi… and the best place for it is in the dust bin of history… period.

    Gary, you’re stuck supporting neo-Nazi… not a good look.

  30. from Russia with love

    March 12, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    @deceitful Gary Jacobs
    do you like video? then how do you comment on the Ukrainian video in which the military registration and enlistment office officers twist men of military age and pushing their children and wives drag them to the military registration and enlistment office? how do you comment on the chase for conscripts on the streets of Kharkov? how do you comment on the distribution of subpoenas in clubs in Kyiv and in bomb shelters? you tell that in Artemovsk for 1 killed Ukrainian 7 killed Russians, but then why is there no place in Ukrainian cemeteries?
    I’ve already asked you why Ukraine is begging for tanks from everyone? At the beginning of the conflict, Ukraine had a little less than a thousand tanks in combat units and more than 2,000 in storage. you yourself wrote that Ukraine captured 500 Russian tanks. More than 400 tanks were officially handed over to Ukraine. already transferred. tell me, where are these 4000 tanks? where did they disappear to? why is Ukraine retreating if they have so many tanks and why are they asking NATO for tanks?
    I would like to listen to your comments on the video filmed by Ukrainians in the “Russian dash” against the backdrop of burnt Ukrainian armor hanging on the side of the road. This is not Russian propaganda, this is filmed by Ukrainians. what can you tell them? “everything is fine. go die in Bakhmut. we paid for it.”?
    since you got into the history of the name of Bakhmut-Artemovsk, then you can probably somehow comment on what the Ukrainians are doing in Bakhmut, founded in 1571 by Ivan IV, the Russian tsar, rebuilt by Peter I and until 1991 was in the Russian Empire and the USSR? that some Ukrainians forgot in a Russian city?
    “It is true that there was more of a pro-Russian sentiment in that area… yet before Russia’s invasion in 2014, and the pro-EU protests throughout the country, far less than half, and certainly not a majority…were in favor of joining Russia.”
    statements about the ban on the Russian language made by neo-Nazis whom the United States brought to power in Ukraine in 2014, you apparently forgot? did you also forget the burning of people in Odessa? did you also forget the executions of protesters in Zaporozhye, Kharkov and Mariupol? Or is it just not customary for you to remember it? that is, you don’t talk about this and it’s like it didn’t happen? no, that’s not how it works. 😉 in 2014 you financed your junta and this junta directly, from the state budget, financed neo-fascist formations such as Right Sector, Azov, Aidar, C14. real refined Nazis screaming zickheil and painted with swastikas and SS symbols. your junta makes the heroes of Ukraine 100% of the Nazis involved in massacres and war crimes, such as Shukhevych and Bander. it is ironic that the Jew Zelensky does this. 🙂 The ideology of the Ukrainian junta is completely based on hatred based on nationality. and so, the junta that finances the fascists, glorifies the fascists and bases its ideology on hatred on a national basis is 100% fascists. how can you justify the fact that the United States arms and finances 100% of the Nazis? although what am I talking about. 🙂 The US is arming ISIS in Syria. cooperation with scum and sadists is a US tradition. 🙂
    “So my question to you is pretty simple. Why would Ukraine be initially ready to withdraw and then change their mind? And what happened over the last couple weeks?”
    during this time, Artemovsk was practically surrounded. there is one way to the city which is under the fire control of Russian troops. for Russia there is nothing sacred in this city. we will grind Ukrainian reserves there as much as Zelensky will send them there. everything suits us 🙂 but Zelensky cannot give the order to retreat. he invested too much in the image of an impregnable fortress and its loss is a blow to the motivation to go die for his regime. although even without this, more and more people do not want to die for Zelensky. 😉 By the way, the life span of a company of Ukrainian soldiers in Artemovsk is 4 days. and this is not Russian propaganda, this is what the Ukrainian military says on Ukrainian television.

  31. Neil Ross

    March 12, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Not one word about AZOM artemovsk metal processing plant until today. A self contained nuclear blast proof structure, similar to the steel works and salt mines of past battles. We know so little about the situation on the ground in this war and yet we comment as if we are experts.

  32. PlutoN

    March 12, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    @Walker: only Russians are stupid enough to fall for Russian propaganda.
    “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” (Sun tzu)

  33. PlutoN

    March 12, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    @Walker: only Russians are stupid enough to fall for Russian propaganda.
    Propaganda works when you are unable to find solutions on your own.
    In your case, you are based on a comfortable answer and adjust the facts that are comfortable for you … offensive, retreat, Bakhmut and other nonsense. A rational person in your case must realize the real goals of the military operation, evaluate the resources, time, experience of the parties and add it all into a single picture that does not contradict the information coming from all sides.
    Indeed, in reality, the goal of the Russian military operation is to restore the military-technical balance (to eliminate the Armed Forces of Ukraine – the largest land army in Europe, which practically went over to the side of NATO after 2014) in the western direction, i.e.:
    – destruction of the military-technical potential (stocks) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
    – liquidation of the mobilization potential of Ukraine;
    – liquidation of the economic potential of Ukraine, i.е. bringing the Ukrainian economy to a state of impossibility to generate income sufficient to restore the military-technical potential, plus “unsustainable” debts to the “collective West” and corruption as “icing on the cake.”
    As a result, a new balance will be formed, in which “everyone wins”:
    – Russia eliminated the threat;
    – Ukraine saved Europe;
    – the “collective West” stopped the Russians on the Dnieper, who didn’t fucking need that Dnieper

  34. Walker

    March 12, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    @Pluton – You didn’t just miss the point, you are in a different universe. No one outside Russia falls for Russian propaganda which isn’t deceptive warfare but stupid stories that keep you Russians happy.

    Are you insinuating that Russia is sending wave after wave of soldiers to die in Bakhmut to lure Ukrainians into believing they can hold the city. It’s a genius plan! Send them by the thousands with just shovels to fight with. The big surprise? There isn’t one! The human wave of death will build a wall of dead bodies that Russia will cover the city with making it Russian by blood. You are brilliant! Russian moms are happy to spend 18 years raising children just to see them die in a different country with no way to protect themselves.

  35. Gary Jacobs

    March 12, 2023 at 6:46 pm


    Once again proving you cannot wrap your head around the fact that Ukrainians who support Bandera has far more to do with him fighting against Russian imperialism than his *temporary* collaboration with Nazis. He was, after all, arrested by the Gestapo for his intent to declare Ukrainian independence. You always like to ignore that fact considering how inconvenient it is for your faux notion of smarts.

    BTW, The street in question was renamed in 2016, three years before Zelensky took office…by the Kyiv City Council. So trying to pin that on Zelensky or his administration is pretty silly even for you.

    In 2016, The Ukrainians renamed just about every street in Kyiv that ever glorified Russians. The one renamed for Bandera was called Moskovskiy Prospekt, or Moscow Avenue. Even if everything you thought about Ukrainian support for Bandera were true, which it isnt, Moscow Avenue would still be an even more insulting name considering how many millions of Ukrainians have been killed by Russian imperialists over the centuries.

    The renaming is part of a massive “decommunization” campaign to rid Ukraine of Soviet era symbols in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion Ukraine’s east in 2014.

    Under legislation adopted in May 2015, Ukraine formally categorizes the communist government that ruled between 1917 and 1991 as a criminal regime.

    Along with Moscow Avenue, the Kyiv city council also voted to rename three other Kyiv streets honoring famous Russians: a street and a lane named after Mikhail Kutuzov, a field marshal of the Russian Empire; and a street named after 18th century Russian military leader Aleksandr Suvorov.

    The council agreed to name the streets after Oleksa Almazov, a general of the Ukrainian People’s Army; Ukrainian writer, journalist, and poet Yevhen Hutsalo; and Mykhaylo Omelyanovych-Pavlenko, supreme commander of the Ukrainian Galician Army.

    Klitschko himself had suggested renaming the street hosting the Russian Embassy in Ukraine after slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin.

    Once again, you cherry pick your way into tossing away the real context: when looking at the full scope of the renaming, it has everything to do with being against Russia, and nothing to do with being pro Nazi.

    When the war is over, Ukraine has to give itself more of a Bandera enema… and from what I hear of prominent Ukrainians they are prepared to have that conversation among themselves.

    That’s far more than I can say for Russia and it’s apologists like you who have shown Zero willingness to confront the tyranny of Russia’s history.

    Bottom line: you continuing to pretend your faux notion of smarts is anything close to reality continues to be pure fantasy.

  36. Fred Leander

    March 12, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    Dear mr. Davis – first of all – the Germans did reach Volga. They just weren’t able to hold on to Stalingrad, a city by Volga.

    What I particularly react to in your article is the allegation relative to the parties’ combat losses – that Russian losses are five times that of Ukraina’s – Zelensky allegedly has used the number 7. How can you (and other experts), knowing the Russian superiority in artillery and other weaponry, advertise such figures? Except as a pure propaganda carrier for mr. Zelensky to upkeep the impression that the war is going well for him – that western support is a good investment that must continue? How can anybody take such information, coming solely from one of the warring parties, seriously?

    For the above-mentioned reasons, I should think the numbers are turned on their head, and that the lack of Russian advances are rather that they are not spilling man-power unnecessary. This is what the Russians themselves suggest. It should be taken seriously because it is a logic explanation. Western powers make a serious mistake supporting this war based on Ukrainian information – and ambitions.

  37. CopeHarder,Rashka

    March 13, 2023 at 4:22 am

    Dear @Gary Jacobs,
    You’re the only reason I keep reading this magazine every day. To see your comments fighting the Russian bots under Daniel “Apologist” Davis’ articles brings a special kind of joy to my morning coffee. I would like to thank you for not letting down, and I can just hope that you can keep this going at least until we get the first pictures of Leopards in Simferopol.


  38. from Russia with love

    March 13, 2023 at 6:09 am

    @Neil Ross
    “We know so little about the situation on the ground in this war and yet we comment as if we are experts.”
    why do we know so little? yesterday (03/12/2023) “Vgner” fighters entered the territory of the plant and are fighting for communications on the territory of the plant. this was reported by Russian telegram channels with reference to Prigozhin’s press service.

  39. Simon Beerstecher

    March 13, 2023 at 8:06 am

    Davis continually discounts the value of morale in battle.Ukraineans know what they are fighting for Russians don’t.

  40. PlutoN

    March 13, 2023 at 9:15 am

    @Walker: Are you insinuating that Russia is sending wave after wave of soldiers to die in Bakhmut to lure Ukrainians into believing they can hold the city.
    In my opinion, you confused Russia with Ukraine, and I’m not hinting at anything.
    I had no intention of convincing anyone of anything, adequate people themselves will put together a consistent model that explains information from all sides, and inadequate ones will insist on their own and it is pointless to convince them.
    Agree, well, how can one consider an adequate person who is sure that five times the “density of fire” of the Russians leads to a commensurate excess of their losses.
    But what I am sure of is that misunderstanding of the goals of what is happening does not lead to correct conclusions and / or forecasts.
    Adios …

  41. Jim

    March 13, 2023 at 11:20 am

    Gary, you make excuses for the inexcusable…

    What you intentionally miss and cover for…

    The neo-Nazi actions the Kiev regime has engaged in, themselves, and encouraged in the populace in since 2014… like I wrote… but you don’t care.

    Instead, you keep wanting to talk about actions from over a century ago, mostly the 19th Century.

    You’re in la la land… pushing your perceived grievances & vendettas… from 19th Century Europe.

    No, bottom line, in actual fact, you support neo-Nazi in today’s Kiev… and their reprehensible actions.

    You cover for a pack of white glove neo-Nazi in Kiev who send other people to death… while they drive around luxury cars… the corruption stinks to high heaven.

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