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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Russia loses 800 men per kilometer in Bakhmut: diplomat

A British diplomat said hundreds of Russian soldiers would be killed for every kilometer around the town of Bakhmut captured. It’s been one of the hottest stretches of the 600-mile front for months.

Ian Stubbs, senior military adviser to the UK delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, spoke to Ukrinform on the sidelines of the Security Co-operation Forum in Vienna on Wednesday. He said that the Moscow troops and their mercenary compatriots of the Wagner group suffered heavy casualties in the “intense struggle” in the Donetsk region.

“Over the past week we have witnessed intense fighting as Russia continues its grueling offensive in the Donbass,” Stubbs added. “Russia suffers from extremely high casualty rates.

“Since May last year, between 20,000 and 30,000 Wagner and regular Russian forces have been killed and wounded in the Bakhmut area alone; an enormous loss of life in a total territorial advance of only about 25 kilometers [15.5 miles],” he said.

Such a toll means “over 800 Russian soldiers killed or wounded for every kilometer gained, the vast majority of them Wagner fighters,” Stubbs added.

Oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner-operator of the Wagner Group, “is finding it increasingly difficult to resupply what he calls the ‘meat grinder’ in eastern Ukraine… Everyone can see the truth. Russia’s military and defense industries are failing Ukraine,” Stubbs said.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine regularly publish casualty figures. Moscow has only confirmed the deaths of around 6,000 soldiers fighting in Ukraine. Kyiv claims to have killed more than 162,000 Russians since February 24, 2022, while Western estimates say around 200,000 Russian dead and wounded.

Western officials have also said Ukraine could have lost as many as 100,000 soldiers killed in more than a year of fighting.

news week emailed the Russian Ministry of Defense to solicit comment.

The Battle of Bakhmut is now more than seven months old. It has become a reference to Russia’s inability to convert vast human resources into battlefield successes.

Losses on both sides are believed to be heavy. The Ukrainian leadership has come under criticism for its refusal to abandon the city despite the slow advance of Russian units around them.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top officials said Bakhmut was being held and reinforced for military, not political, reasons. A Russian capture of Bakhmut would pave the way for later attacks on the Donbass cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. These are two main objectives of Russia’s spring offensive aimed at completing the occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said news week that Kiev’s “military leadership is absolutely sure it’s worth it; it’s not a political decision, it’s a military decision. I’m sure it’s very difficult, but there can be no easy decisions about the war.”

“We cannot fully understand the details as such decisions are made using all available details of intelligence and operational campaign planning,” Zagorodnyuk said.

“However, it is clear that if the remaining Russian capabilities are not blocked in Bakhmut, they will quickly focus on other areas in Donbass, which could affect a large number of civilians living there and possibly the preparations for the future counter-offensive . “

The commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said in a statement published on the military’s Telegram channel on Wednesday that “the enemy continues to make unsuccessful attempts to encircle the city and move forward.”

Ukrainian defenders, Syrskyi added, “are resisting the enemy’s furious pressure. Thanks to your work, enemy tank, IFVs [infantry fighting vehicles]MLRS [multiple-launch rocket system]and ammunition depots blow up.”

“Such decisive actions by our army greatly exhaust and demoralize the enemy and bring our victory closer,” Syrskyi said.

As Ukrainian troops resist Russia’s slow advances along the front line, they prepare their own spring counteroffensive. Adviser to the President’s Office Mykhailo Podolyak said last week Kiev expects its efforts to begin in the next two months.

The leaders of Ukraine hope that by then their units will be reinforced by NATO heavy and light armaments, on which Ukrainian crews are currently being trained in NATO countries.

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