The fighting in Bakhmut is coming to an end. The battle is not over. Ukraine is trying to turn the tide and the Russians have new plans too.
The Battle of Bakhmut is over. But what will happen now? We present three options. One of them takes a favorable course for Ukraine. The other two describe the possibilities of the Russian side.
Flanking attack by Ukraine
About 14 days ago, Ukrainian troops launched a limited counter-offensive on both flanks of the city, which was still defended at the time. To the north, the attack proceeded along the M03 road, supported by a lateral push from the Bohdanivka area. At first the attack made good progress and met a chaotic and overwhelmed defence. But the Russians were able to position themselves on a second line behind a reservoir and stabilize their position. Since then, Ukrainian fighters have made very slow progress.
A similar picture in the southwest. Here the Ukrainian forces from Ivanivske moved in and also threw the Russians out of their defensive positions. But even there they could withdraw. Set up a second line on a ridge while Kiev’s troops struggled through a grove and had to cross a canal. The ridge is shielded by two moat positions. But if Kiev takes this position, the village of Klishchiyivka falls into their hands and Kiev’s troops threaten the TO 513 road to Bakhmut and further the crucial M03.
These are tempting options for Kiev: the troops would only have to push the Russians back a few kilometers and the Russian triumph in Bakhmut would turn into a debacle. The Russians have to give up the city they had taken with great difficulty.
The Endless Battle
New satellite images document the total destruction in the hard-fought area of Bachmut
Several factors speak against this positive development. The surprise effect of the first attack has fizzled out. The Russians have brought in reinforcements. The Wagner mercenaries are no longer tied up in the city and the Russian artillery will try to crush the Ukrainian attacks.
The next few days will show whether Kiev is making further progress on this path.
Major attack by Moscow
Each side deployed around 50,000 soldiers in the area around Bakhmut. The big Russian solution now looks like this: advance through the smaller settlements to Kiev’s last line of defense in the Donbass. On the chain of fortified towns from Sloviansk through Kramatorsk to Kostyantynivka. That is currently unrealistic. It would take weeks, if not months, to drive Ukrainian forces out of the smaller settlements along the way and reach attack positions. Extending the fighting to this length of front would require far more soldiers and, accordingly, ammunition than in Bakhmut. Instead of 50,000 men, one would have to calculate with 150,000 men. Little likely that Russia can mobilize these forces. And even if it were possible, it would be unwise, because then Moscow would have no reserves to counter a Ukrainian offensive.
But a second Bachmut would be possible. But now with the aim of Avdiivka. The small town is only about 15 kilometers from Donetsk and is surrounded by the Russians on three sides. To the south-west, the Russians have taken a salient around the villages of Pervomais’ke, Vodyane and Opytne and have crossed the natural barrier of a chain of lakes. In the north they occupied Krasnohorivka and Novobakhmutivka. It’s also small here, the Russians only need a few kilometers to cut off the city. From there they would have access to important roads and in the long term there would be the possibility of getting behind the cities fortified by Ukraine from the south. If you look at the Battle of Bakhmut, then the battle for Avdiivka would probably last months.
The situation around Bachmut will be decisive for the next few days and weeks. If the Ukrainians succeed in advancing south of Bakhmut in the direction of the M03, the Russians face a serious defeat. Then they will not be able to launch any further offensives in this area. However, if the Ukrainian armed forces have to break off their offensive without having achieved any real successes, this is also a clear defeat. Then parts of the best assault troops were worn out for a couple of meadows.
All variants described have nothing to do with the “Great Counteroffensive”. The newly formed troops are not involved in these battles, nor are the main battle tanks supplied by the allies.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.