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Russian troops fail “numerous” Bakhmut attacks in a day: Ukraine

  • Ukraine continues to defend the city of Bakhmut against Russian attacks and fighting has intensified in the city, with Russian forces being aided by mercenaries from the Wagner Group.
  • The city is not just important militarily; it is seen as a symbol of Ukraine’s fighting spirit.
  • Although Ukraine is managing to hold on to Bakhmut, one expert predicts that it will eventually fall to the Russians.

Ukraine continues to thwart Russian attacks against the city of Bakhmut, according to a Facebook post from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Bakhmut has been a critical front line in the war since July 2022, and fighting intensified there over the winter months when both Ukrainian and Russian forces reached a deadlock. At the one-year anniversary of the war in February, Russian forces intensified their efforts to take the city, bolstered by mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private military company. But Ukraine maintains that it is still deflecting Russian advances on the city.

“In the Bakhmut direction, the enemy continues storming actions of the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted Thursday on Facebook. “However, our defenders are bravely holding the city, fighting the numerous attacks of the enemy. During the day, the invaders carried out unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Orihovo-Vasilivka Donetsk region.”

A resident waves at a Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicle on its way to the front line on March 17, near the embattled city of Bakhmut.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian forces have so far resisted the Russians’ relentless aggression against Bakhmut, which has undergone constant shelling while Russia brings up reinforcements of its troops. Russia is making advances, but they are costly, with Russian troops losing soldiers at a rate of five to one Ukrainian soldier.

At the start of the year, Ukraine officials hinted at pulling troops out of Bakhmut, which would have been a sound strategic decision, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser Mark Cancian. However, the fighting didn’t end. Russia continued to edge forward, surrounding Ukrainian troops on three sides and unleashing constant shelling and fire. Meanwhile, Ukraine has so far not decided to sacrifice the city.

Rather than attempting to pinch off a salient (territory surrounded by the enemy on multiple sides) and surround the city, Russian forces decided to attack Bakhmut at the tip of the salient, Cancian said.

He told Newsweek that Ukraine has an advantage as it defends Bakhmut because it is easier to fight off enemy forces from a city. “I’m surprised the Russians are doing that, in the sense that every military textbook would tell you not to do that,” he said. “Don’t attack into the city, into the enemy’s strength.”

Beyond its military significance, Bakhmut has become a symbol as well. As Ukrainian troops continue to hold on to the city, it has come to represent the country’s fighting spirit. If Russia seizes the city, that may not keep Ukraine from succeeding militarily in the long term, but it could hurt its soldiers’ spirits, as it would be the first time either side has gained significant ground in the war in months.

Despite Ukraine’s positive stance on defending Bakhmut, Cancian said he believes Russia will eventually seize the city, but at a significant price.

“The Russians are making slow progress at a very high cost,” Cancian said. “Ukraine is going to make the Russians pay for every street, and eventually Russia will run out of resources.”

Newsweek reached out by email to Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s press office for comment.

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