Pictured: A map showing the on-going situation on the ground in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. While Russia claims its forces have taken the city (centre), Ukraine’s troops are working to encircle it from the north and the south
- Moscow claimed its forces had taken full control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut over the weekend
- But Kyiv says Putin’s forces in the city are surrounded on three sides – to the north, south and west
Russian forces have walked into a trap by taking control of Bakhmut after a grinding nine-month long battle for the Ukrainian city, Kyiv has said.
Moscow claimed to have taken full control of the eastern city over the weekend, in what would be a largely symbolic victory that has come at the cost of tens of thousands of Russian and Wagner mercenary troops. Kyiv disputed the Russian claim, but acknowledged its forces now control only a small district.
But while the situation in Bakhmut itself appears bleak for Ukraine, Kyiv says its fighters’ presence has played a key role in their strategy of exhausting the Russian military ahead of a planned counteroffensive, while manoeuvring around the flanks of the city.
Ukraine now says its current positions in the areas surrounding Bakhmut – where its forces have fought to surround the city from the north and south in recent weeks and sent Russian troops running – will allow them to strike back.
According to Ukraine’s Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi: ‘Wagner’s men went into Bakhmut like rats into a mousetrap.’
Pictured: Ukrainian artillerymen fire a cannon near the city of Bakhmut on May 3
Pictured: Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen in front of his soldiers holding Wagner Group and Russian flags in Bakhmut on May 20, claiming full control of the city
While Moscow may control the centre of Bakhmut, analysts say the Kremlin’s victory is not strategically advantageous, as it is unlikely to provide a springboard for either Wagner or Russia’s conventional armed forces to advance further west.
What’s more, as Wagner pushed relentlessly through the city, Ukraine’s forces launched rapid counterattacks in the fields to the north and south of Bakhmut, meaning Kyiv’s troops surround the city from three sides.
Kyiv now holds the high ground around the city, putting any Russian unit in the sights of Ukrainian artillery from multiple directions.
Even more important for Ukraine has been the high numbers of Russian casualties and sapping of the morale of enemy troops for the the small patch of the 932-mile front line as Ukraine gears up for a major counteroffensive in the 15-month-old war.
‘Despite the fact that we now control a small part of Bakhmut, the importance of its defense does not lose its relevance,’ said Syrskyi, the commander of ground forces for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid reports of Russia taking control of the city.
‘This gives us the opportunity to enter the city in case of a change in the situation. And it will definitely happen,’ he added. ‘The enemy failed to surround Bakhmut. They lost part of the heights around the city. The continuing advance of our troops in the suburbs greatly complicates the enemy’s presence,’ said Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol –Independent Reporter
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