The Ukrainian military continues to defend fiercely against the waves of Russian attacks. On day 376 of the war, the situation in and around Bakhmut remains tense as the Russian forces are making a determined push from three directions to capture the town in the Donbas.
Bakhmut as a ‘Death Trap’
The Ukrainian forces are holding their ground, but the situation is growing perilous. In some cases, the same Ukrainian units have to defend against dozens of human wave attacks coming at their positions.
Kyiv is sending more troops to hold Bakhmut, but it has repeatedly signaled that it would evacuate the town if the position becomes unattainable.
Ukraine has used Bakhmut for more than seven months as a death trap for Russian troops while it prepares its own large-scale counteroffensive for later in the year.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian progress in and around Bakhmut comes at a high cost. The Russian forces are bleeding men left and right in exchange for small territorial gains. Ex-convicts from the infamous private military company Wagner Group are taking the heaviest losses in the battle.
Russian commanders are sending these doomed men over the top time and again in an attempt to overwhelm and attrite the Ukrainian defenders before sending in regular troops to finish the job.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 153,770 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)
Destroyed equipment includes: 302 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 289 attack and transport helicopters, 3,423 tanks, 2.433 artillery pieces, 6,703 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 489 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,307 vehicles and fuel tanks, 250 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,086 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 232 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 873 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
More Tanks for Ukraine
The United Kingdom will be sending more Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Ukrainian ambassador to Britain said.
In a radio interview, Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said that the U.K. would be sending an additional company of 14 tanks. The additional tanks will bring the total Challenger 2 main battle tanks inbound to Ukraine to 28.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited London in a lightning trip a few weeks ago, where British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated his country’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s existential fight against Russia.
The Ukrainian diplomat talked about the political and diplomatic back-and-forth behind any significant military assistance to Ukraine.
“It was the same, by the way, with tanks – it was a breakthrough moment when it was necessary to move the reluctance of all other allies,” Prystaiko said.
Sending Ukraine tanks took months of negotiations between Kyiv and its Western partners. Indeed, at some point, the tank saga unearthed some core differences among major NATO allies, including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
With these and other incoming weapon systems, the Ukrainian military is looking to build a mechanized warfare capability to use in the upcoming counteroffensive in late spring, or early summer.
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.