Destruction of Bakhmut Seen in Overhead Video as Wagner Group Threatens to Pull Out of the Fight – Video footage shared on social media last week highlighted the complete destruction of the city of Bakhmut in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. Though just 21 seconds in length, it serves as a powerful reminder of the human toll in this war.
The video was posted to Twitter by the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Rob Lee (@RALee85), and viewers could be forgiven for thinking it was footage from the opening sequence of the award-winning British documentary television series The World at War.
As of March, only about 4,000 of its civilians remained in the city and many were living in shelters with no access to water, gas, or electricity.
The devastation is so complete that it continues to evoke comparisons to the destruction of the city of Stalingrad during the Second World War.
There is little doubt that when this horrible conflict is finally ended, such footage could find its way into a documentary about the conflict in Ukraine.
The Turning Point?
As of the beginning of April, more than 75% of the city was under Russian occupation – but attempts to take complete control of the city have resulted in massive casualties.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides have been killed in the fighting, but a report from the BBC in March, which cited open-source intelligence data, suggested that between 20,000 and 30,000 Russian troops had been killed and wounded in the battle for Bakhmut since last summer.
That number has only likely climbed as the Kremlin has pressed its attack.
Moscow has even tried to paint the city as this conflict’s Stalingrad, but it would be a hollow victory at best.
After Stalingrad, the Red Army was resurgent, and the German Army was essentially a spent force.
Russia is far from seeing any resurgence and instead is relying on increasingly antiquated hardware including Cold War-era main battle tanks (MBTs), while its soldiers are being issued with equipment that U.S. surplus stores would be hard-pressed in selling.
By contrast, the Ukrainian military – now armed with Western MBTs and other hardware – is likely to launch a counteroffensive.
The situation apparently isn’t lost on some in Russia.
On Sunday, Yevgeny Prigozhin – founder of the paramilitary Wagner Group – threatened to withdraw his mercenary force from the fight, due to a lack of support and heavy losses.
He reportedly issued an ultimatum to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over ammunition shortages in an interview with Russian military blogger Semyon Pegov published Saturday.
“Now, with regard to the need in general for shells at the front, what we want. Today we are coming to the point where Wagner is ending,” Prigozhin warned. “Wagner, in a short period of time, will cease to exist. We will become history, nothing to worry about, things like this happen.”
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) April 26, 2023
Bakmut has essentially ceased to exist, and it is now likely the Wagner Group forces that wiped it from the Earth could soon meet a similar fate.
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.