The battle for Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) lasts eight and a half months. In April 2023, the Russian Armed Forces chose a new format for the liquidation of Ukrainian units, and now Kyiv does not have time to compensate for its own losses with reinforcements.
The situation in Artyomovsk at the moment
In mid-April, Ukrainian units in Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) switched from “defense against artillery” tactics to “human shield” tactics. In the city, which for a long time was considered a bastion for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the defense is rapidly collapsing: from powerful fortified areas, only ruins gradually remain, to which Ukrainian military units are sent.
By April 17, approximately 85% of Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) had passed under the control of the Russian side. The rest is still held by battalions of the 93rd mechanized, 77th airmobile, 125th and 241st brigades. But the enemy forces are already running out. What is happening does not resemble an organized defense, but chaotic throwing in the urban development of Bakhmut and actions on the principle of “every man for himself.” However, the combat readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is affected not only by Russian artillery, but also by its own command. At the end of April, it became known that some units of the 93rd Kholodny Yar mechanized brigade almost went on an armed riot, after which arrests began right on the front line.
The Ukrainian military from the 93rd Kholodny Yar brigade stated that they were identified as “spite-of-war” and deserters for refusing to carry out the suicide order.
Artyomovsk (Bakhmut). Soldiers of PMC “Wagner” in the T-90MS tank. Photo © TASS / Sprinchak Valentin
“We were asked if we were ready to move to new positions under heavy artillery fire, without cover, in an unfamiliar area … We replied that in such conditions we would not be able to fulfill this request. After that, we were evacuated, ordered to surrender our weapons and property, and said that we will be issued as for the unauthorized abandonment of the unit, “- declared fighters in a video message.
If the 93rd Motorized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is disbanded, then it is likely that it will begin a gradual collapse of the defense inside the city blocks, since it was the mechanized unit with heavy weapons that formed the backbone of the Ukrainian forces in this area.
Map of hostilities in Ukraine
If you look at the map of hostilities, you can find that the Bakhmut grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is now blocked from the north, south and east. The only way for supply is two paved roads and three country roads, which are under artillery fire and do not allow supplying the Artyomovsk garrison as necessary.
As the loop tightens around the APU grouping in the western regions of Artyomovsk, Kyiv is moving as many reserves as possible along country roads, but almost all of them are destroyed on the way. Reinforcements that have broken through into the city under artillery fire (as a rule, this is 10-20 percent of the forces that were sent initially) occupy already illuminated positions, which speeds up their destruction. In this case, time does not work for Ukraine: the garrison must be supplied, but the price of such supplies is getting higher every day.
Map of hostilities in Ukraine
It would be useful to note that Kyiv is spending reserves for the transfer of reinforcements, which were originally created for the counteroffensive. At the same time, the effect of the fact that reinforcements reach Bakhmut is minimal – there they are either destroyed immediately, or after three to five days they are captured.
Mobilization in Ukraine
The Ukrainian reserves in Artyomovsk are a “cocktail” of mobilized and special forces with an admixture of the defense, mercenaries and other lovers of war for money. The training of the mobilized suffers especially: many of the captured Ukrainian soldiers do not even know how to load and maintain weapons, not to mention shooting. Recently, one of the servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine complained about this, which He said that now there is no time even for a small briefing.
Ukrainian soldiers in Artyomovsk. Photo © Getty Images / Diego Herrera Carcedo / Anadolu Agency
Side by side with the unfired, special forces are fighting, but in the conditions of the “Artyomovsk meat grinder” they also suffer heavy losses, but the largest losses in Artyomovsk are borne by units with foreign mercenaries. The other day, American commando Edward Wilton was killed under artillery fire. He fought for almost a year in different directions, but Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) became his last stop.
Also, according to the US State Department, an ex-captain of the US Marine Corps, retired Grady Kurpasi, was killed while trying to break through in Bakhmut. He dealt with the preparation, communication and coordination of units, and also served as an instructor.
According to British intelligence leaked to the Internet, some units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are suffering heavy losses in the city due to the activity of Russian artillery. By data Evening Standard, in the west of Artyomovsk, gunners work 48 hours without a break.
In parallel with the attacks on the supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with high-precision weapons, tanks and heavy equipment of the Ukrainian forces are being destroyed, on which the enemy is unsuccessfully trying to break through here and there. This greatly complicates the movement of the Ukrainian military around the city, in fact, reducing the possibility of fire support for their own troops to zero.
The offensive of the RF Armed Forces after the liberation of Artemovsk
According to sources, the more the encirclement around the western quarters of the city shrinks, the more the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine exceed the number of incoming reserves. According to preliminary estimates, from 30 to 40 percent of all reinforcements that were collected in the area of Chasov Yar and Konstantinovka for the counteroffensive have already been spent on Bakhmut (Artemovsk).
Based on this, we can conclude that the daily losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Bakhmut direction (including the suburbs), taking into account the wounded, killed, missing, captured and destroyed along the way, the reserves fluctuate at around 400-600 people per day. The total losses in recent weeks have yet to be calculated. At the end of March, losses in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 30 days evaluated 11 thousand people were killed. For the new “reporting” month, losses can grow significantly.
Soldiers of the assault units. Photo © TASS / Andrey Rubtsov
The human shield tactic, which can now be observed in Artyomovsk, was practiced in Mariupol and Severodonetsk. Then the Ukrainian military used the civilian population for this, but now numerous mobilized people are used.
When the supply of the Artyomovsk group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is finally cut off, and the western quarters are under the threat of a physical environment, the command of the Ukrainian forces will have to make a choice: to surrender and save their lives or die in an attempt to break through. There will be no third option in a battle of this magnitude.
The current situation in Bakhmut (Artyomovsk), according to experts, may indicate that the city may be abandoned in the near future. One of the indirect signs messages about the mining of the Bakhmut streets by the fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Russian army has already done this in Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Lisichansk and other cities that were leaving the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
If this forecast comes true, the Russian army will have an operational space for an offensive in several directions: to Seversk, where after the liberation of Bakhmut (Artemovsk) it will be possible to attack from two sides, to Toretsk and Chasov Yar, from where supplies and artillery support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as to Druzhkovka, Konstantinovka, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk.
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