Saturday, February 24

Putin wants to complete the conquest of Donbass before the first anniversary of the war is fulfilled

The units of the Russian combined forces in the Donetsk region tried this Wednesday to continue their advance around the town of Bakhmut as a preliminary step before launching towards Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and completing the complete occupation of Donbass, the main strategic objective that the president Vladimir Putin has entrusted the now head of the operation and head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov.

The head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), Denis Pushilin, has been affirming for several days that the fall of Bakhmut is imminent and that the Ukrainian forces that defend it are already practically surrounded. On Wednesday, the retired colonel of the DNR separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, He assured that “the Russian troops only have to advance 10 kilometers to close the siege” around Bakhmut.

According to Marochko, the Ukrainians “will no longer be able to withdraw in an organized way from the city, since all the roads that come together in it are within range of Russian artillery.” However, Ukrainian media Telegram channels such as Ukrinform or UNIAN report that the Russians are besieging Bakhmut only from the east and south.

In this town, where the Russian Army’s attempts to bring it under its control date back to the summer, is the 44th Ukrainian artillery brigade, which hopes to dismast the Russian batteries so that they do not interrupt the traffic of ammunition from Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka and Chasov-Yar. Bakhmut is also defended by the 3rd Brigade of the National Guard, whose troops, according to kyiv, yesterday annihilated a “large assault group of Russian Wagner mercenaries”, who apparently tried to break through the Ukrainian lines.

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boost in the zone

Quoted by the UNIAN agency, the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) maintains that the Russian Army “has managed to maintain its momentum in the Bakhmut area thanks to the dispatch of airborne forces.” Until now, the initiative in this area of ​​the front had been carried out by the Wagners, who played a decisive role in the capture of neighboring Soledar, but, in the opinion of the ISW, their units were already exhausted and needed reinforcements.

All in all, the ISW estimates that the Kremlin has “overestimated” the capabilities of its Army in the Bakhmut area and considers that the battle could continue for many more days. In kyiv, however, voices are already being heard calling for a withdrawal in order to avoid further casualties and conserve these forces for use in other parts of the front. In Bakhmut, despite the fierce shelling by Russian artillery, there are still civilians. Those who live in the eastern part of the city are the ones who are now getting the worst of it. Ukrainian media reports that people live in the basements of their homes without being able to even go out to get food.

Pushilin believes that once Bakhmut falls into Russian hands, it will be easier to move towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. He also thinks that the capture of Vugledar, located 130 kilometers southwest of Bakhmut, will open the door to the towns of Kurájovo, Marinka and Pokrovsk. Vugledar is also under siege by the Russian Army and fierce fighting is also taking place around it. In this city lived before the war some 15,000 inhabitants and it was a relatively quiet area until now, which has become another of Moscow’s priority targets in its plans to occupy all of Donbass before Ukraine receives the tanks promised by the West.

Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, General Igor Konashenkov, announced on Monday “new offensives” by Russian troops in the Donetsk region. Pushilin then said that “our units have set up their positions in the eastern part of Vugledar and also in the immediate vicinity.” But, according to the Ukrainian military spokesman, Evgen Yerin, “the Russian attacks are failing” and the kyiv forces “were able to repel them.”

On the other hand, Konashenkov reported on Tuesday that the Russian Army took the Ukrainian town of Blagodatne, near Bakhmut. The Russian spokesman said the operation was carried out by “assault detachments made up of volunteers with support from the operational and tactical aviation and missile and artillery troops of the Southern Group.”

Last month, Russian troops already managed to dislodge the Ukrainian Army from Soledar, located about twenty kilometers northeast of Bakhmut. Soledar had a population before the start of the war, in February of last year, of about 10,000 inhabitants. A significant part of whom worked at ‘Artyomsol’, the largest salt production company in the eastern half of Europe.

At that time, Andrii Yermak, head of the office of the Ukrainian Presidency, compared the fighting in Soledar and Bakhmut with the Battle of Verdun in 1916. When asked about what is happening in those two towns, Yermak replied that “the situation is difficult, even more difficult than imaginable.

This is the battle of Verdun of the 21st century. The fighting has been going on for several months, but our fighters are managing to hold their positions.” According to his account, “there are many human losses on the Russian side, much more than ours because we value the lives of our soldiers more.”

The Battle of Verdun, which went down in history as the “Verdun meat grinder”, was the longest engagement of the First World War. Historians still argue about the number of casualties, although a rough estimate speaks of some 300,000 German and French soldiers killed there. For his part, the adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, Mikhailo Podoliak, assured that “everything that is happening in Bakhmut constitutes the bloodiest scenario of this war.”

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