The Russo-Ukrainian War: Live Updates on Bakhmut

Ukrainian soldiers atop a tank move toward the front line near Bakhmut last week.credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces are engaged in “cleansing” operations to clear the ruins of Bakhmut of remaining Ukrainian soldiers, a senior Ukrainian official said Monday, as military leaders in Kiev seek to shift focus from their apparent loss of the city. to battle its environs.

The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Gen. Oleksandr Sersky, admitted over the weekend that only a small group of Ukrainian soldiers were now inside Bakhmut, a tacit admission that Russia had won its nearly year-long campaign to capture the city. Gen. Sirsky said that those few forces would continue to defend their territory in order to provide “opportunities to enter the city in case conditions change.”

The comments signaled a shift in how Ukraine has portrayed the bloodiest campaign of the war as Russia claims its first success on the battlefield since last summer. For months, even as its control of Bakhmut has shrunk to a few western blocs, Ukraine has been battling hard to prevent the Russians from taking the city. Now officials seem to admit that their focus is shifting from defending Bakhmut to making it more difficult for the Russians to hold it.

While many claims of the battlefield in Kiev cannot be verified, it is clear that Ukrainian forces have made minor gains in recent weeks in the north and south of Bakhmut, breaking through a Russian defensive position in a key battle that began on May 6.

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Speaking during a visit to Ukrainian soldiers on the eastern front on Sunday, General Cirsky claimed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces continue to make progress on the outskirts of Bakhmut and are “on the verge of tactically surrounding the city”. But the Ukrainian military did not provide details of where it was advancing.


Land Reclamation

From Ukraine since then

May 10th

approximate

city ​​limits

Land Reclamation

From Ukraine since then

May 10th

approximate

city ​​limits

Land Reclamation

From Ukraine since then

May 10th

approximate

city ​​limits

Land Reclamation

From Ukraine since then

May 10th

approximate

city ​​limits

Major Rodion Kudryashov, commander of the Ukrainian 3rd Assault Brigade, said on Monday that the Ukrainians continued to make small but significant gains across the city.

“We are trying to feel the enemy’s weaknesses and gradually, step by step, we are trying to put pressure on him, occupy advantageous positions for us, and take the initiative,” he said in an interview with the Ukrainian radio RBC-Ukraine.

Some analysts said the Ukrainian allegations appeared to be an attempt to shed light on the setback in Bakhmut.

“Talk of a tactical siege is premature and probably reflects a hasty response to the city’s fall,” Konrad Muzyka, a defense analyst at Roshan Consulting, wrote Monday.

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But this does not mean that Russia’s hold on the city is guaranteed. A great deal could depend on the plans of the mercurial and bombastic head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose fighters led the Russian attack on Bakhmut. Hours after declaring “victory” over the weekend, Prigozhin said he would withdraw his fighters starting Friday.

“From June 1, not a single Wagner fighter will be at the front until we undergo reconfiguration, re-equipment and additional training,” he said.

An image taken from a video released by the press service of Wagner founder Yevgeny V. Prigozhin purporting to show him with his fighters in Pakhmut, Ukraine, on Saturday.credit…Prigozhin Press Service, via Associated Press

Removing troops from an active front is no easy task, and could leave Russia vulnerable to attacks by Ukrainian forces on high ground on the city’s outskirts. Given the widely reported tensions between Wagner and the Russian military leadership, and communication problems within Russia’s ranks, analysts say Ukraine will watch for defections to exploit.

Even if Prigozhin does not withdraw his fighters now, military analysts have indicated that Russia will face challenges in capturing Bakhmut, especially as Ukrainian forces prepare for a counterattack that could escalate fighting along other parts of the 600-mile front line.

Institute for the Study of War Books its latest analysis Sunday.

Ukrainian and British military intelligence reported that there is evidence that the Russian military is sending thousands of soldiers to the region.

Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, said on Monday that while “the enemy is clearing out areas of the city under its control,” Ukraine continues to “struggle for the dominant heights” around the city.

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She said that for the time being, Ukrainian soldiers had achieved their primary goal in the Battle of Bakhmut.

“The enemy’s offensive ability is greatly reduced,” she said. “The enemy has suffered heavy losses, and we have gained time for certain actions, which can be described later.”

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