The city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, has become a focal point in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.. Despite reports that Ukrainian troops were withdrawing from the city, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that his army will maintain a presence and defend the city against continued Russian aggression.
The Russian army has lost thousands of troops in recent weeks, many of them private soldiers from the Wagner Group, which works for the Russian government. Despite the attempts of the Wagner Group and the Russian army to take the city, Ukrainian soldiers fought fiercely to hold Bakhmut.
Uncertainty on the battlefield
Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has asked the Russian Defense Ministry for help to prevent the Wagner Group from becoming isolated from the main forces of the Russian Armed Forces, which would negatively affect the “special military operation”. However, it is not clear whether Prigozhin will receive help from the Russian military due to the recent tensions between him and the Russian military.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has also reported that the Russian armed forces are not confident that their military can maintain its current presence in and around Bakhmut. In addition, video footage of Ukrainian armored vehicles driving on a highway near Bakhmut has raised concerns among the Russians about a new Ukrainian offensive.
Avdiivka, the next fight
If Russia cannot take Bakhmut, the aggression is likely to continue in the town of Avdiivka, some 90 km to the south. According to British military intelligence, Russian forces may be deliberately pressuring supply lines to Avdiivka to weaken Ukrainian forces ahead of an expected offensive.
Tavria military command spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi has stated that Avdiivka could become the “second Bakhmut”. The British Ministry of Defense has reported that Russian troops have made “stealth advances” in the city in recent weeks.
The battle for Bakhmut is a critical point in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The outcome of the battle could have a major impact on the future of the region. If Russia cannot take Bakhmut, it is possible that the aggression in Avdiivka will continue. In any case, the conflict is far from over and the situation in the region remains uncertain.