Russian advance stalls in Bakhmut, Ukraine, says think tank

Russia’s advance appears to have stalled in Moscow’s campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a leading think tank said in an assessment of the longest ground battle of the war.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said there was no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut. Russian forces and units of the Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group paramilitary continued to launch ground attacks in the city, but there was no evidence they were able to make any progress, ISW said late Saturday.

The report quoted spokesman for the Eastern Group of Ukrainian Armed Forces Serhii Cherevaty as saying that fighting in Bakhmut region was more intense this week than the previous one. According to Cherevaty, there have been 23 clashes in the city over the past 24 hours.

The ISW report follows claims of Russian advances earlier this week. Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday paramilitary units from the Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group had captured most of eastern Bakhmut, with a river running through the town now marking the front line of fighting. The assessment highlighted that Russia’s attack will be difficult to sustain without significant personnel losses.

The mining town of Bakhmut is located in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, one of four regions of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last year. The Russian military launched a campaign to take control of Bakhmut in August, and both sides have suffered staggering casualties. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed not to back down.

In its latest report on Sunday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the impact of the heavy casualties Russia continues to suffer in Ukraine varies widely across the country. The ministry’s intelligence update says the major cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg remain “relatively unscathed,” particularly among members of Russia’s elite. In contrast, in many eastern regions of Russia, the death rate as a percentage of the population is “30 to 40 times higher than in Moscow.”

The report stressed that ethnic minorities are often the hardest hit. In the southern region of Astrakhan, for example, about “75% of the victims come from the Kazakh and Tatar minorities”.

Russia’s mounting casualties are reflected in a loss of state control over the country’s information sphere, ISW said. The think tank said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has confirmed “the infighting in the Kremlin’s inner circle” and that the Kremlin has effectively relinquished control of the country’s information space, while Putin is unable to regain control .

The ISW sees Zakharova’s comments, made at a forum on the “Practical and Technological Aspects of Information and Cognitive Warfare in Modern Realities” in Moscow, as “noteworthy” and in line with the think tank’s long-standing assessments of the “self deteriorating Kremlin regimes and control dynamics of information space.”

Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least five people were killed and seven others injured in Russian attacks the previous day in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Kherson regions, local Ukrainian authorities reported on Sunday morning.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that two people were killed in the region, one in the town of Kostyantynivka and one in the village of Tonenke. Four other civilians were injured.

Local officials in southern Kherson province confirmed that Russian forces fired 29 times at Ukrainian-controlled territory in the region on Saturday, with residential areas of the regional capital Kherson coming under fire three times. Three people died in the province and three others were injured.

In northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv province, the Kharkiv, Chuhuiv and Kupyansk districts were shelled, but no civilian casualties were reported.

The head of southern Ukraine’s Mykolayiv province, Governor Vitali Kim, said Sunday morning that the city of Ochakiv, at the mouth of the Dnieper, came under artillery fire in the early hours of Sunday. Cars were set on fire, private houses and high-rise buildings were damaged. No casualties were reported.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at Russian advance stalls in Bakhmut, Ukraine, says think tank

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