According to the Ukrainian official, Kyiv forces forced out Russian troops from some positions in the city after hard-fought battles.
“The situation is quite difficult,” Syrskyi said of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces have withstood consecutive bombardments from Wagner private troops. “At the same time, in certain parts of the city, the enemy was counterattacked by our units and left some positions,” he added.
The news that Ukraine may finally be making some progress in Bakhmut, after months of holding on to their defense lines and preventing any further significant gains for the Russians, came as the White House revealed the latest estimate of the number of Russian troops who have been killed or wounded over the last five months.
According to the White House, 100,000 troops have been killed or hurt in less than half a year, with some 20,000 dead. Half of the troops killed in the last five months were also private fighters from the Wagner mercenary group – a private army responsible for most of the fighting in the Bakhmut region.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Russia has “failed” in the Donbas, and in Bakhmut more specifically.
“Russia’s attempt at a winter offensive in the Donbas largely through Bakhmut has failed,” Kirby said. “Last December, Russia initiated a broad offensive across multiple lines of advance, including toward Vuhledar, Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and Kreminna. Most of these efforts stalled and failed. Russia has been unable to seize any strategically significant territory.”
Kyiv is poised to make further gains, too. Amid rumors of a Ukrainian counteroffensive this spring, the leader of the Wagner Group has been warning the Kremlin to refrain from launching new offensives and go on the defensive in eastern Ukraine. According to the Institute for the Study of War, Yevgeny Prigozhin told the Kremlin that the Ukrainian counteroffensive could occur before May 15, and that Russian forces need to do more to prepare.
The U.S.-based think tank also argued that Prigozhin’s repeated threats to withdraw his fighters from Bakhmut could indicate that he believes Russia’s positions in Bakhmut are vulnerable to Ukrainian counterattacks.
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.