Frustrated by the protracted battle over Bakhmut, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has urged Russian forces to carpet-bomb the city of Donetsk.
Vladimir Putin’s ally said such an approach could “solve the problems” faced by Moscow’s troops in the fierce battle in which they have suffered heavy casualties.
“Can’t we just use huge FABs to bring everything to a state where it doesn’t matter how many ‘Ukronazi’ soldiers there were,” he said on his radio show full contact, which refers to the bombs dropped from the air. Last year Ukraine said that Russian Air Force Tu-22M bombers dropped unguided bombs on Ukrainian troops in Mariupol on the Azov Sea coast.
“We are asked to go through another Azov valley,” he said, referring to the steel mill that was a bastion of the Ukrainian resistance during last year’s siege of Mariupol.
He spoke of the prospect of the “humiliation” of a prisoner exchange that followed the siege. “Is that what we want to achieve?” he added in the clip, tweeted by Ukraine’s internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko.
news week emailed the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Solovyov’s comments come amid a decrease in the number of attacks in the city in recent days, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
The financier of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prighozin, said his troops fighting for Moscow lack ammunition, forcing them to widen their encirclement of Bakhmut.
However, Wagner’s manpower, artillery and equipment losses will hamper their efforts to fully encircle the city, and their offensive “is increasingly nearing its peak,” said the ISW, which added, “Ukrainian forces likely have a greater chance of regaining the initiative.” “
Despite being surrounded on three sides by Russian troops, Kiev has pledged to defend Bakhmut in order to inflict a full-scale attrition on the Wagner group.
British military adviser Ian Stubbs, speaking in Vienna on Wednesday, said between 20,000 and 30,000 Wagner and regular Russian forces had been killed and wounded in Bakhmut alone since May.
That’s over 800 Russian soldiers killed or wounded for every kilometer covered, “the vast majority of them Wagner fighters.” He described this as “an enormous loss of life for a total territorial advance of only about 25 kilometers”.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said fewer than 3,000 residents, including 33 children, remain in the city while evacuation efforts continue. “There are people who absolutely refuse to go,” Kyrylenko said.
Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyzes in Arlington County, Virginia, who just visited Bakhmut, said the battle for the city was a good fight for Ukraine, but since December it has become a ” Strategy of diminishing returns.”
“The attrition rate is favorable for Ukraine, but it’s nowhere near as favorable as it was before,” he told the War on the Rocks podcast. “The losses on the Ukrainian side are quite heavy and require a significant amount of replacements.”
“Ukraine is not that favored in battle because it doesn’t play to (its) military strengths,” he added.