Russian offensive in Bakhmut encounters more problems: UK
Russia’s fight for the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut would be hampered by huge casualties as well as tensions between Moscow and mercenary troops battling Kiev’s forces.
The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) said the Russian assault on the city of Donetsk “has largely stalled”, which was mainly due to “extreme attrition of Russian force”, although he also noted that Ukraine had also suffered heavy troop losses.
Saturday’s update says Russia has likely shifted its operational focus to Avdiivka, located south of Bakhmut, and to the Kreminna-Svatove sector to the north, areas “where Russia probably only aspires to stabilize its front line”.
“This suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design after the inconclusive results of its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January,” said the MOD update on Saturday, which in the past has tended to put the focus on Ukrainian gains and Russian losses.
Russia was rocked by huge manpower and equipment losses at Bakhmut as well as the failed attack on Vuhledar in February. “Tactically, these attacks were a disaster for Russia,” said Paul D’Anieri, professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside, recently. Newsweek.
“They are probably also a strategic disaster, in that they have eroded Russia’s ability to attack or defend without appreciable territory gain,” he added.
British officials also said the Russian campaign likely worsened due to tensions between the Russian Defense Ministry, which Newsweek sent an e-mail for comments, and the Wagner mercenary group fighting for Moscow, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The businessman suspected of having close ties to Vladimir Putin has repeatedly criticized the Russian defense establishment for not providing enough ammunition to his troops.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, on Thursday noted Wagner’s chief dismissal of Kremlin claims that in Ukraine Russia is fighting NATO and even surrendered questioned the presence of Nazis there, which was one of Putin’s pretexts for war.
Prigozhin also took aim at Russian officials, saying it was “ridiculous” to believe they had gone ahead with the invasion without taking into account that Ukraine would receive NATO aid. He characterized the combat as being “exclusively with Ukrainians” equipped with equipment supplied by NATO but not the alliance itself.
However, Chief Wagner has softened his rhetoric towards the Russian MOD for fear of losing its mercenary forces, the think tank said. Prigozhin’s comments also added weight to reports that Kiev forces were planning a possible counteroffensive in the east of the country towards Russia’s Belgorod region.