Ukraine May Withdraw from Bakhmut After All – But Russia Has Lost a Massive Amount of Troops That It Might End Up Being a Loss over the Longterm: Ukrainian forces appear to be preparing to withdraw from the city of Bakhmut following months of Russian aggression.
Despite an enormous loss of life for Russian troops – so extensive that many analysts suggested that taking Bakhmut simply wasn’t worth it – Russian forces appear to have finally begun encircling the city.
It could be good news for Russia, at least in the short-term, and even comes as a surprise to some major players in the war.
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed just days ago that reports of a Ukrainian withdrawal were not based in reality, though on March 3, Prigozhin admitted that Russia’s “pincers are closing” in a city now known by troops as the “meat grinder.”
Bakhmut: Russia Almost Encircles City
Russian forces bombarded some of the last remaining routes in and out of Bakhmut on Friday, bombarding roads and bridges with heavy shelling.
Shelling all major routes leading out of the city puts Ukraine on the backfoot, and hurts Ukraine’s access to supplies of food, water, weapons, and ammunition.
While Ukrainian troops work to rebuild damaged roads and clear pathways out of the city, it remains unclear how exactly Ukrainian military leaders will respond.
Efforts to repair roads could indicate that Kyiv and the Ukrainian military’s top brass have still not given up on the city.
On Friday, Ukraine’s ground forces commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited the city to discuss strategy with commanders and to discuss ways of establishing better defenses.
Repairing roads, however, could also suggest that troops are looking to establish an escape route.
CNBC also reports that Bakhmut’s army commander, Denys Yaroslavskyi, confirmed that some Ukrainian units had been moved to more secure positions and that the conflict became a “slaughterhouse” for both sides since the morning.
Russian Destroy Supply Bridge
Ukrainian officials told CNN how Russian forces destroyed a crucial supply bridge in Khromove, a village near the city of Bakhmut, using an Iskander missile.
The destruction of the bridge could be the final straw for Ukrainian forces, assuming that new routes cannot be established, and analysts increasingly believe that the damage done could mean a Russian victory is imminent.
Speaking to Newsweek, Dmitry Gorenburg of the Center for Naval Analyses said that the Russians could take the city within a matter of weeks, and Ukrainian forces will be forced to withdraw.
Gorenburg noted, however, that even if the Russians win, Ukrainian forces have destroyed a huge number of Wagner forces, making it difficult to launch new offensives in the region. That makes taking the city almost look like a loss.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.