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Friday, March 31, 2023

Ukraine fighter describes how he was “sent to his death” while serving in Bakhmut

A bloody battle continues as Russia and Ukraine battle over Bakhmut, and one Ukrainian soldier described his deployment as “sent to death.”

The Russian-Ukrainian war fronts shifted to Bakhmut in August, where they have remained. Both sides have suffered catastrophic casualties, and some experts predict Ukraine will soon withdraw from the fighting-ravaged city. Ukrainian soldiers are under constant fire from Russian forces, and one soldier described the horrors in an interview with The Kiev Independent.

“If they drive us to Bakhmut, I already know that I will be sent to my death,” said Volodymyr, a 54-year-old Ukrainian soldier Independent. The newspaper withheld the soldier’s last name for his safety.

Volodymyr described situations where Ukrainian soldiers were ill-equipped to return fire, while Russian forces constantly unleashed shelling and artillery attacks.

The Russians moved closer to victory at Bakhmut after renewed efforts to mark the one-year anniversary of the war in late February. Russian forces are now surrounding the city on three sides, and the troops are being augmented by soldiers from the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company led by Yevgeny Prigozhin. However, Ukraine continues to defend the city. Withdrawing from Bakhmut would give Russia its first victory in the war since July. Throughout the winter, the war remained in a stalemate, with heavy casualties on both sides.

Some Ukrainian officials have toyed with the idea of ​​a strategic retreat, but a Ukrainian senior lieutenant said so Independent that he has not heard any plans to withdraw.

Mark Cancian, senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said news week that Ukraine seems to have decided to try to hold Bakhmut rather than withdraw.

“From a tactical point of view, the Ukrainians should retreat,” Cancian said, explaining that Ukrainian forces were deeply surrounded on three sides. “It’s very dangerous. There’s a risk of being completely surrounded.”

However, should Russia secure the city, the psychological impact on Ukrainian troops and residents would be significant. Bakhmut has become an iconic city at war, indicating the fighting spirit of Ukrainians.

Much of the Russian advance at Bakhmut can be attributed to the Wagner group. The company supplied the area with men, and the armed forces of Russia are almost three times larger than those of Ukraine Independent. However, when Russia hinted at a near victory at Bakhmut, Prigozhin requested more ammunition, a need that was not met. Last week, Prigozhin announced that the Wagner Group was cut off from all Russian government communications channels.

Fighting in the area continues and the battle has worn both troops down. But according to Cancian, from a tactical point of view, it wouldn’t hurt much if Ukraine gave up the city.

“The Ukrainian lines are already shorter and they are building fortifications behind Bakhmut,” Cancian said. “It doesn’t predict the end, but psychologically it’s going to be a big deal.”

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