Bakhmut is 'a slaughter-fest for the Russians'March 30, 2023
Bakhmut is ‘a slaughter-fest for the Russians’ who are ‘getting hammered’ by Ukrainian forces in the area and ‘not making any progress whatsoever’
- US General Mark Milley said late last night that Russia was suffering major losses
- Hard fighting in and around Bakhmut has inflicted huge casualties on both sides
Russian forces are ‘getting hammered’ in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in fighting described as a ‘slaughter-fest’ by senior US officials.
Chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff General Mark Milley told lawmakers late last night: ‘The Russians have not made any progress whatsoever in and around Bakhmut.
‘It’s a slaughter-fest for the Russians. They’re getting hammered in the vicinity of Bakhmut and the Ukrainians have fought very very well.’
But Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have admitted in recent days that Russian troops managed to gain some ground, despite having suffered horrendous losses.
‘Enemy forces had a degree of success in their actions aimed at storming the city of Bakhmut,’ the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a regular report late on Wednesday.
‘Our defenders are holding the city and are repelling numerous enemy attacks.’
Ukrainian soldiers of the 28th brigade walk together at their position on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, March 27, 2023
Ukrainian soldiers of the 28th brigade fire a mortar at Russian positions on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, March 27, 2023
A Ukrainian tank rolls on a muddy road near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on March 29, 2023
The mining city of Bakhmut and surrounding towns in the eastern industrial region of Donetsk have been the focal point of assault for much of Russia’s 13-month-long invasion of Ukraine.
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Brutal close-quarters urban combat in the city itself and World War One-style trench warfare in the surrounding countryside have resulted in an awful attrition rate, with both sides losing thousands of troops.
Soldiers have begun referring to the conflict as the ‘Bakhmut meat grinder’ amid the bloodshed, with Russian troops – many of them conscripts or prisoners recruited by the infamous Wagner mercenary group – being forced to embark on suicidal ‘human wave’ missions to exhaust Ukrainian resources.
Speaking with the Associated Press earlier this week, President Zelensky warned defeat in the battle for Bakhmut would enable Russia to start building international support for a deal that would require his nation to make unacceptable compromises.
Zelensky said if the city were to fall to Russian forces after a protracted battle, president Vladimir Putin would ‘sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran’.
‘If he will feel some blood – smell that we are weak – he will push, push, push,’ he told the Associated Press, adding that a loss anywhere at this stage in the war could put Ukraine’s hard-fought momentum at risk.
‘We can’t lose the steps because the war is a pie – pieces of victories. Small victories, small steps,’ he said.
‘Our society will feel tired. Our society will push me to have compromise with them.’
Some in the West – including former president and 2024 candidate Donald Trump – have questioned whether Washington should continue to supply Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid and Zelensky worries the war could be impacted by shifting political forces in Washington.
‘The United States really understands that if they stop helping us, we will not win,’ he said.
The Ukrainian president also extended a diplomatic invitation to China’s President Xi Jinping, who just weeks ago met with Putin at the Kremlin for a day of talks, calling him a ‘dear friend’ and signing a slew of agreements designed to strengthen the Sino-Russian relationship.
China, economically and politically aligned toward Russia, has provided Putin diplomatic cover by staking out an official position of neutrality in the war.
Xi has been clear about wanting to bring about an end to the war and has proposed a peace plan, but it was dismissed by Ukrainian authorities because it suggested that Kyiv cede territory to Russia to achieve a ceasefire.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is worried that a loss in Bakhmut would mean ‘our society will feel tired. Our society will push me to have compromise with [Russia]’
Ukrainian soldier of the 80th brigade in a trench, in the direction of Bakhmut, 26 March 2023
Ukrainian service members fire a howitzer M119 at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the chief of the UN atomic watchdog said on Wednesday he was working on a compromise security plan for the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and warned of increased military activity around it.
There are persistent fears over the safety of the plant in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, where there has been frequent shelling since Russian troops invaded last year.
During a rare visit to the facility, Europe’s largest, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said he was working to find a compromise that would suit both Moscow and Kyiv.
‘I am trying to prepare and propose realistic measures that will be approved by all parties,’ Grossi told reporters during a press tour organised by Moscow at the plant, which is controlled by Russian forces.
‘We must avoid catastrophe. I am an optimist and I believe that this is possible,’ said Grossi, who arrived at the plant in a Russian armoured vehicle, surrounded by soldiers in full combat gear.
But he also warned of increasing military activity around the nuclear plant and expressed hope that Russia and Ukraine would agree on safety principles.
He added that the visit to the plant was ‘extremely useful.’
‘The idea is to agree on certain principles, certain commitments, including not to attack the plant,’ he separately told AFP.
Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of shelling the plant, increasing fears of a disaster. Russian soldiers stationed at the plant told AFP during Grossi’s visit Wednesday that they have been preparing for a possible attack from Kyiv.
Their main task is ‘to prevent an armed takeover’ of the site by Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’, one soldier told reporters.
Ukraine denies any such plans.
The United Nations has called for a demilitarised zone around the site.
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