With its positions in Bakhmut, the Ukraine can inflict high losses on the Moscow troops, and the grueling siege of the city also drives a wedge between the Wagner mercenaries and the Russian leadership. Nevertheless, military observers are assuming that Kiev is about to withdraw.
According to military observers, Kiev could withdraw part of its armed forces from the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, which has been fought over for months. "Ukrainian forces may withdraw from their positions on the east bank of the Bakhmutka River in light of the geolocation imagery confirmed March 3 destruction of the railway bridge across the river in northeast Bakhmut," the US-based Institute for War Studies wrote (ISW).
According to Russian military bloggers, the Wagner mercenary force fighting there has meanwhile taken parts in the east, south and north of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian military has not yet officially confirmed the withdrawal. On the situation maps, however, the areas east of the Bakhmutka River are now marked as Russian or so-called gray zones. However, the pressure on Moscow is increased by Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozchin. If the promised ammunition doesn't arrive soon, Wagner's troops will have to retreat, he threatened.
Far away from the internal Russian quarrels, the Ukrainian general staff reported in its situation report that morning about ongoing fighting in the area. Both the city itself and a number of suburbs were shelled by the Russian side. After the Russian troops were driven out of the Kharkiv region, Bakhmut's strategic value is low, since there is no threat of encirclement of the conurbation between Sloviansk and Kramatorsk after the fall. For the Russian military leadership, however, the receipt has great symbolic power, since it has to show successes.
In an interview with ntv, Major General Bruno Hofbauer from the Austrian Armed Forces sees no great Russian advantage in the war by taking Bakhmut. Should the city fall, he assumes that, as in recent months, Russia will not have enough well-trained forces in depth to launch a full-scale offensive afterwards. According to the major, Ukraine could manage to hold Bakhmut for the next few days and weeks. "We have repeatedly seen new attempts by the Russian side, with very high losses, where very, very little space was gained. Now efforts are being made to enclose Bakhmut through a two-way encirclement with a heavy emphasis, especially in the north. The Ukraine and can still react by supplying forces from outside."
The Ukrainian side held Bakhmut for a long time, since the well-developed positions in the city made it possible for the attackers to inflict heavy casualties during their slow advance. Nevertheless, indications and reports of a planned troop withdrawal have been piling up lately, after the Russians have meanwhile surrounded Bakhmut from three sides and are advancing in the direction of the last access road from the rear to supply the Ukrainian units.
For months there has been fighting around Bachmut, where around 74,000 people lived before the war. The city, in the ruins of which, according to official figures, around 5,000 civilians are still holding out, was almost completely destroyed.