Russia-Ukraine War Update

The Battle of Bakhmut

Connie Yan

Recently, the founder of Russian PMC Wagner Group claimed his mercenaries have seized control over the eastern part of the city of Bakhmut, therefore allowing Russian forces to accelerate their offenses within eastern Ukraine.

The Battle for Bakhmut has been the longest ongoing Russian assault in the war, and both sides have already suffered heavy losses. Ukrainian officials claim 800 Russians are killed a day, and that nearly 30,000 of Wagner Group’s 50,000 troops have been either deserted, killed, or wounded. Ukraine has not disclosed their own losses, but Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Ukraine had lost over 11,000 troops in February.

A Ukrainian soldier of an artillery unit fires towards Russian positions outside Bakhmut. Credit: AFP

President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine would send more reinforcements to Bakhmut rather than retreat from the city, maintaining their defensive position as they continue to fight off Russian troops closing in on them. Successfully defending Bakhmut could equip Ukraine with a future counteroffensive. As for Russia, capturing Bakhmut would serve as a sign of progress after months of setbacks. 

As of now, it is crucial for Ukrainians to prevent Russian troops from fully surrounding Bakhmut, which could render their ability to resupply impossible, forcing them to retreat. Of the three main supply routes in Bakhmut, Russian forces have already cut off one of the routes, and are beginning to close in on the remaining two. The highway from Bakhmut to Chasiv Yar remains under heavy shelling as Russian forces continue to launch assaults in attempts to close off the road. The highway is safer than it was as Ukrainian counterattacks have pushed back some of the Russians. The area still remains under heavy shelling, as volunteers and aid workers are continuing to evacuate any civilians left in the town reduced to rubble. As of March 7th, 2023, less than 4,000 civilians remain in Bakhmut.