Russia’s claimed victory in Bakhmut is anything but: Experts

Kyiv: yes Bakhmut Whether it has fallen or not, Moscow is being dragged deeper into an increasingly costly fight for the frontline city as kyiv prepares for a major offensive, experts say.
Russia’s claim to have conquered the destroyed city, which Ukraine rejected on Sunday, does not mean significant new ground from which to launch attacks or strengthen defenses.
But Moscow made capturing the eastern city a key objective and fought the longest battle of the war, as well as one of the deadliest, in an attempt to achieve what it would like to call a significant success.
US President Joe Biden, speaking from the G7 Summit in Japan, Russian casualties recorded at Bakhmut alone numbered over 100,000, including dead and wounded.
Shaken by the possibility of not winning Bakhmut after Ukraine recaptured miles of ground north and south of the city this month, Russia has brought in significant numbers of additional troops.
“The redeployment represents a significant commitment,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday, noting that the reinforcements could number in the thousands.
The American Institute for the Study of War reported that Ukraine’s attacks on Bakhmut’s flanks “forced Russian troops to allocate scarce military resources…as the Ukrainian command probably intended” .
Ukraine has stifled speculation that the advances are its long-awaited offensive, but drawing increasing numbers of Russian troops into the deadly battle in Bakhmut has significant advantages for Kiev’s response.
“What they (the Ukrainians) had to do was, on the one hand, to weaken the Russians as much as possible before they made this counter-offensive, and on the other hand, to buy time to prepare for this strength,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
“They calculated – I think it was the right choice – that by fighting for Bakhmut they could do both,” he told US outlet NPR in an interview aired on Saturday.
The timing and direction of Ukraine’s offensive has been the subject of months of speculation, while Kiev has said next to nothing except that it needs more weapons from its forces. donors.
At the same time, Russia reinforced hundreds of kilometers of front line with tank barriers, trenches and troops.
Since the battles would come after a large influx of Western weaponry, success or failure could undermine future support or increase pressure on kyiv to negotiate.
It’s unclear to what extent troops reinforcing Bakhmut left gaps in Russian defenses, but O’Brien said the Ukrainians could wait to attack “where they think the Russians are weakest.”
Speculation regarding the calendar has gone through several issues, including the particularly wet spring which has left parts of the country weakening.
The viscous Ukrainian mud is not an ideal surface for tanks or fast-moving troops, but the weather has generally been dry for weeks.
It’s also hard to imagine the nation launching a major offensive while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is out of the country.
He has made a rapid succession of major overseas trips in recent weeks, advocating for more and bigger guns.
He has secured a promise of more missiles from Britain and a multibillion-euro package from Germany, as Europe steps up support.
Zelensky also made a high-impact trip to Hiroshima to make his case in person to G7 leaders, whose support is essential in Kyiv.
The G7 summit ends on Sunday, which would mean Zelensky could return home soon.
In kyiv on Sunday, soldiers heard the news from Bakhmut with shrugs and skepticism.
They have already heard of the capture of the city and they have other things in mind.
“Everyone is already trying to find out when the offensive will start. We know that we already have the equipment and the machines,” said Staff Sergeant Volodymyr, who spoke on condition that his name from family is not used.
“We are all waiting for the command’s decision,” he said as gunfire crackled in the background at a Kiev-area firing range.


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