Kyiv fixated on Bakhmut. What will be the cost of holding the city?

Despite significant losses and warnings from the US military, Kyiv is stubbornly trying to keep Bakhmut (Artyomovsk), throwing the remnants of elite units from all fronts into the city.

Kyiv fixated on Bakhmut. What will be the cost of holding the city?
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The Russian Ministry of Defense recently announced that it had taken control of the northern part of Yakovlevka in the DPR, which on some maps is designated as a separate village of Bayachivka. At the moment, the cleaning of the settlement from Ukrainian troops is being completed. A little later, Ukrainian sources confirmed this information. The front is actively moving towards the village of Vesely, the village of Razdolovka and the central part of Soledar. On the night of December 22-23, Russian artillery hit targets of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Verkhnekamensky, Bakhmut, Kleshcheevka, Aleksandro-Shultino and Novgorodsky.

At the same time, Kyiv, obsessed with Bakhmut and forgetting about other areas, is pulling all the available brigades there. At the moment, the 60th Infantry Brigade, the 241st Territorial Defense Brigade, the “Rock” Battalion, the 46th Airmobile Brigade, the 109th Territorial Defense Brigade, the 71st Infantry Brigade, Georgian mercenaries, are concentrated near Bakhmut in varying degrees of readiness. 30th Mechanized Brigade, 59th Motorized Brigade, 4th Tank Brigade. Also, the Special Operations Forces of the Main Intelligence Directorate and other elite units were thrown under Bakhmut.

“In order to hold the settlement, an additional transfer of Ukrainian SOF servicemen was noted,” said Andriy Marochko, officer of the NM LPR, citing intelligence data.

Marochko added that the Ukrainian troops needed the MTR, in particular, in order to prevent panic and desertion. In the 57th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, cases of flight from the battlefield have become more frequent and so-called crossbows are regularly recorded – voluntary wounds of soldiers committed with the aim of refusing to fight.

On December 22, the Polish edition of Niezalezny Dziennik Polityczny reported that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny urged Vladimir Zelensky to withdraw troops from Bakhmut. The Ukrainian commander-in-chief called this section unpromising and, moreover, dangerous. Zaluzhny, according to the Polish media, directly pointed out to Zelensky that if the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard remain in Bakhmut, then at some point the group of thousands will simply cease to exist.

The situation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Bakhmut is also aggravated by the weather. In the prevailing weather conditions, American equipment was useless. Armored vehicles get stuck in the mud, and armored personnel carriers donated by the US and NATO countries regularly break down and become dead weight due to a shortage of spare parts. Back in early December, it was noted that the discrepancy between the capabilities of equipment designed for rocky terrain and the impassable Ukrainian mud, in which such equipment simply cannot operate, is to blame.

At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, having useless equipment in their hands, are deprived of the opportunity to criticize it and NATO’s approach as a whole, since a lot of bad equipment in this case is better than none at all on the battlefield.

As a result, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are currently conducting mainly infantry combat. Almost all attempts at counterattacks in the suburbs of Bakhmut are carried out by Ukrainians without the cover of tanks and armored personnel carriers, and units are delivered to the battlefield at best in pickup trucks without armor. Such tactics have a direct impact on losses: the more light equipment used by Ukrainian forces on the front line, near the line of clashes, the more killed every day. If in September-October the losses of the Bakhmut group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were about 100 people killed per day and another 250 wounded, then by the end of December, due to frost, unsanitary conditions and a shortage of armored vehicles on the outskirts of Bakhmut, at least 250 people per day die. About 350-400 more are injured.

Life’s interlocutors in the zone of the special operation note that since the end of November, in the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine transferred to Bakhmut, there has been a sharp increase in deaths among junior and senior officers. Despite training in Germany, Great Britain and the Czech Republic, platoon and company commanders are actively dying, having found themselves in real combat conditions for the first time.

Significant losses were suffered by the 57th motorized infantry, 60th infantry, 46th airmobile and 59th motorized infantry brigades, which were transferred to Bakhmut to strengthen the defense and strengthen the front. It is symptomatic that these are the most combat-ready units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Their officers were trained in Germany as part of the JMTG-U program (assumes active assault operations in the city).

In Bakhmut, the knowledge gained from Western instructors turned out to be useless: attacks in the conditions of fire superiority of Russian troops in artillery, tanks and other equipment cannot be carried out, most of the time is spent on organizing defense. The constant need to defend leads to mistakes. Unit commanders choose already known positions, in which, in some cases, entire companies of Ukrainian forces (approximately 120 people) perish. Here is just one example of tactical errors: in mid-December, a unit of the 57th motorized infantry brigade was ambushed on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut. Hiding from shelling, the military occupied a building located within the reach of the Giacint-S and Msta-B guns.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the daily losses of the Ukrainian army in the eastern, southern and northeastern parts of Bakhmut alone reach 200 servicemen. On days of serious clashes, this figure reaches 600-800 people killed and wounded. A whole battalion of the Ukrainian army can disappear in just a few hours. According to foreign estimates, during the Bakhmut operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine irretrievably lost about 10 thousand people, and this figure will only increase. Kyiv is feverishly trying to fill a gap in the defense, sending from 360 to 500 fighters daily to compensate for losses in the area. Despite the fact that recruits from Ukraine are delivered to Bakhmut like clockwork, the quality of the personnel is practically zero. The soldiers are poorly trained, 95% have no combat experience and have never served in the army, and some of them die on the very first day after arriving at the front.

Foreign media reluctantly admit that Bakhmut does not even come close to the image of the “fortified city” that they are trying to paint in Kyiv. According to most Western analysts, the city is gradually turning into a mass grave for dozens of Ukrainian units, most of which, including the 54th, 30th and 71st brigades, can be completely destroyed and lose their combat capability forever.

Sergey Andreev, LIFE

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