Ukraine locked in trench warfare in Bakhmut

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Ukraine locked in trench warfare in Bakhmut

Fighting dragged on for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut this weekend, as troops on both sides of the conflict returned to trench warfare in the prolonged struggle for the Donbas city.

The Russian push for the now-nearly-vacant city has drawn on for months, even as Kremlin forces have pulled back from the rest of the fighting.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the heavy fighting in the area this weekend, and both sides have claimed to inflict heavy casualties on the other.

Photos from the region showed soldiers on both sides dug into trenches in the mud in what was fast becoming a brutal battle of attrition.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Monday that it had repelled another Russian attack on Bakhmut. The battle lines have scarcely moved over the past several months.

Troops in a trench release a drone into the air
Two soldiers with the 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Ukrainian Army release a drone on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
REUTERS

Ukraine’s Air Assault command said Monday it had deployed its 71st Separate Hunting Brigade to the outskirts of Bakhmut.

Bakhmut, some 30 miles southwest of Severodonetsk, had a peacetime population of 70,000, and no major industrial or obvious strategic importance.

A BM-21 'Grad' multiple rocket launcher fires towards Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, Donetsk region
A BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launcher fires towards Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, Donetsk region on Sunday, November 27, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

The city has instead become a symbolic prize for Russian forces, most notably the paramilitary fighters of the Wagner Group — a brutal, quasi-state force funded by oligarch and Putin ally Yvgeny Prigozhin.

Progozhin — who has long denied involvement in the Wagner Group — has recently begun promoting his involvement with the organization, as well as involving himself in Russian politics.

Some Western analysts have suggested the push for Bakhmut is less about Russia’s strategic goals, and more about securing a legacy for Wagner and Prigozhin.

A soldier silhouetted by an explosion
Ukrainian soldiers fire artillery at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk province, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.
AP

Regardless, the return to trench warfare amid heavy shelling is reminiscent of the fighting in the eastern Donbas region that began with Russia’s 2014 incursion into Ukraine — where Wagner made its name.

Russian forces shelled Bakhmut and the nearby city of Toretsk Monday, Ukrainian authorities said.

“People are sheltering in the basements, many of which are filled by water,” Donetsk’s Governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said. “They have been living in catastrophic conditions without power or heating.”

Kyrylenko reported no civilian casualties Monday.

With Post wires

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