Russia’s regular forces and fighters from the Wagner private military company are launching nonstop assaults on the eastern city of Bakhmut, according to Ukrainian commanders on the front lines.
The situation there “remains extremely tense,” Yurii Fedorenko, the commander of a company in Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade, told Ukrainian television.
“The fighting is extremely difficult,” Fedorenko said. “The enemy is using all available attack and assault potential, both in terms of equipment and manpower.”
Russian paratroopers and special forces have joined the assault, and they’ve had some tactical success, according to the commander. Russia uses onslaughts from aircraft to “literally destroy” Ukrainian positions, then moves forward to fill up the vacuum, Fedorenko said.
But, the commander continued, Kyiv’s troops are conducting “active defense” and retaking some positions, “both on the outskirts of the town and in the town itself, pushing the enemy away from the communication routes and driving them out of their positions.”
Some positions change hands back and forth through the course of battle.
Another officer, Lt. Roman Konon, said Russian forces are pushing ahead with unprecedented force, destroying everything in their path. Each side is suffering casualties, Konon said.
Chipping away at Russia’s forces: Fedorenko endorsed the grinding, monthslong efforts to defend Bakhmut, claiming “the enemy suffers much greater losses during the assault than the Ukrainian forces.”
And if Ukraine allowed Russia to achieve its objectives in Bakhmut, the commander said it would free up “an extremely large number of forces and means, which are quickly redeployed to other areas of priority and importance to the enemy.”
That could include the eastern cities of Marinka or Lyman.
As long as Russia is tied up fighting in Bakhmut, Ukraine is able to “destroy this strike and assault potential of the enemy,” Fedorenko said.
“Sooner or later, we will have to regain every centimeter, every meter of Bakhmut — which means everything that we can hold here and now, needs to be held now,” the commander said.