Ukraine war: Russian forces focus on capturing city of Bakhmut

Kyiv insists its forces are holding out despite opponents’ numerical superiority

Ukraine said on Friday that Moscow was concentrating all its efforts on capturing the eastern city of Bakhmut where it described the situation as “difficult” but said it was holding out despite Russia’s numerical superiority.

Eastern Military Command spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi said Ukraine controlled the situation in Bakhmut, understood Russian intentions and that Moscow had tactical success in some places, but was paying a high price for it.

“The situation is difficult, the enemy is concentrating maximum efforts to capture Bakhmut. However it is suffering serious losses and not reaching strategic success,” he said. “All decisions are taken with the aim of not allowing the enemy to break through our defence, to inflict maximum damage to it and preserve personnel.”

Russia’s assault on Bakhmut, a small city in the Donetsk region, has been the focus of the biggest battle of Moscow’s full-scale invasion launched in February 2022.


“Having tactical success in some places, the enemy pays an exorbitant price for it and loses combat potential every day,” Mr Cherevatyi said.

The British Ministry of Defence said in its daily update that Russian forces have “highly likely advanced into the [Bakhmut] town centre, and has seized the West Bank of the Bakhmutka River. Ukraine’s key supply route to the west of the town is likely severely threatened.”

It adds there is the “realistic possibility that, locally, Wagner and Russian MoD commanders have paused their ongoing feud and improved co-operation”.

The battle for Bakhmut has raged for seven months, with thousands of people killed and hundreds of buildings collapsed or charred. The few remaining civilians have been confined to basements for months with no running water, electricity or gas.

The head of Russia’s private Wagner militia group Yevgeny Prigozhin has said there are no signs of Ukrainian forces leaving Bakhmut, however, and that fighting continues to rage on in the western part of Ukraine’s eastern city.

Meawhile, the Pentagon is investigating a security breach in which classified war documents detailing secret US and Nato plans for supplying aid to Ukraine before its prospective offensive against Russia were leaked to social media platforms.

The documents were spread on Twitter and Telegram, and reportedly contain charts and details about anticipated weapons deliveries, battalion strengths and other sensitive information, the New York Times reported.

According to military analysts, the papers appear to have been altered in certain parts from their original format, overstating US estimates of Ukrainian war dead and understating estimates of Russian troops killed, citing how the modifications could point to an effort of disinformation by Moscow.

The New York Times said the documents, which are five weeks old and at least one carrying a “top secret” label, do not contain details of when, how, or where Ukraine intends to launch its counteroffensive.

One of the documents, which circulated on pro-Russian government channels, summarised the training schedules of 12 Ukrainian combat brigades, and said nine of them were being trained by US and Nato forces, and needed 250 tanks and more than 350 mechanised vehicles, the newspaper said.

The classified papers also contain details on expenditure rates for munitions under Ukrainian military control, including for the Himars rocket systems, the US-made artillery rocket systems that have proved highly effective against Russian forces.

According to Ukrainian presidential official Mykhailo Podolyak, the leak was part of a Russian disinformation operation to sow doubts about Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

He said the leaked data contained a “very large amount of fictitious information” and that Russia was trying to seize back the initiative in its invasion. “These are just standard elements of operational games by Russian intelligence, and nothing more,” he said. - Guardian/Reuters