The struggle for control of Bakhmut is taking a heavy toll on Russian forces and remains the “hottest spot” in the Russo-Ukrainian war, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Bakhmut, a town in Ukraine’s embattled Donetsk region, has been a focus of the Russian offensive for several months. During a televised address Monday night, Zelensky said the uphill battle was “shattering” both the Russian army and Russian-aligned mercenaries operating in the area, such as the infamous Wagner Group.
“Bakhmut is the hottest place on the entire front line – more than 1,300 kilometers of active hostilities,” Zelenskyy said. “Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time is passing and Bakhmut is already breaking not only the Russian army, but also the Russian mercenaries who came to replace the wasted army of the occupiers.”
Zelenskyy further claimed that Russia has senselessly lost almost 99,000 soldiers since invading Ukraine on February 24, with a total of 100,000 soldiers expected to die soon.
A news week Calculations based on Ukraine’s claims that Russia could reach the grim milestone by Thursday, assuming an average of 577 Russian troop losses per day. news week has not independently verified the Ukrainian figures.
“Think about it: Russia has already lost almost 99,000 of its soldiers in Ukraine. Soon there will be 100,000 victims of the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said. “For what? No one in Moscow can answer that question. And they won’t.”
“They wage war and waste people’s lives, other people’s lives, not their loved ones, not their own lives but the lives of others, just because a group in the Kremlin cannot admit mistakes and is terribly afraid of reality,” he added. “But the reality speaks for itself.”
That’s what the Ukrainian military commander Roman Kostenko said recently news week that the long battle at Bakhmut was evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “overestimated” the strength of what is in reality “a weak and unmotivated military.”
There are some success stories for Russia in Bakhmut. This month, Zelenskyy said Russian forces had effectively “destroyed” the city, while calling fighting in the region “very difficult.”
Last week, pro-Russian media claimed that Putin’s troops, fighting alongside Wagner Group units, had broken through eastern defenses and were “fighting street battles” in an industrial area of Bakhmut.
A graphic video shared with news week around the same time suggests that Russia’s supposed progress could come at a heavy price. The video shows a number of Wagner Group mercenaries being killed in an ambush as they struggle to take control of the city.
news week has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/bakhmut-remains-hottest-spot-front-line-breaking-russia-zelensky-1768287 Bakhmut remains the “hottest place” on the front line, “Breaking” Russia: Zelensky