"We knocked them out"; A turnaround?
Russian forces are exhausted in Bakhmut and a Ukrainian counter-offensive could soon be launched.Source: index.hr
This was said by one of Kyiv's top generals, raising hopes for an unlikely turnaround in the besieged city. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, announced on his Telegram channel that "the Russians are losing significant forces in Bakhmut and are running out of energy."
"We will use this opportunity very soon, as we have done in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliia and Kupiansk," wrote Syrskyi.
His comments come days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to the front line in the Donetsk region and are raising hopes in the West that Kyiv's controversial decision to keep troops in Bakhmut will pay off, CNN writes.
"There is only Wagner in the direction of Bakhmut"
Russian troops have carried out more than 200 attacks on the area in the last 24 hours alone, but they are losing hundreds of people every day in their attacks, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of Armed Forces said. CNN could not confirm those numbers.
"There is only Wagner in the direction of Bakhmut, and when they run out of strength, they are reinforced by Russian paratroopers, sometimes also infantry. We knocked them out. In fact, soon there will be no more Wagner stormtroopers if they continue with the same dynamics," said Sergiy Cherevatji.
Cherevatji said the area northeast of Bakhmut, on the front line that runs north of the city of Kreminna, is also under intense fire.
He claimed that Russia "carries out several hundred attacks a day, usually more than 300, sometimes more than 400".
During yesterday, there were 344 attacks and 17 combat conflicts.
A counter-offensive looked unlikely for several weeks as troops from the Russian mercenary group Wagner bombarded Bakhmut and came close to taking control of the city. But that effort came at a significant cost in manpower and resources, and now appears to have slowed. Syrskyi said Russian forces were continuing to try to capture the city "at any cost, despite losses in manpower and equipment."
Slowdown in Bakhmut
"Under the continuous fire of enemy artillery and aircraft, our soldiers at the battlefield show superhuman resistance, courage and daring. This especially applies to the units of the 93rd, 10th, 57th and 5th brigades, which are now defending our homeland in the east of the country," Syrskyi said.
His optimism reflected the latest information from the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army on Wednesday, which said that heavy fighting is still expected for Bakhmut, but that "Russia's offensive potential is diminishing".
"The enemy is still trying to capture the city, losing a significant amount of personnel, weapons and military equipment," it said on Wednesday.
Western intelligence services have a similar opinion.
"The pace of Russian operations around Bakhmut appears to be slowing down," the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote on Wednesday.
But this shift may also indicate a shift in Russia's priorities.
"There is a real possibility that the Russian attack on the city is losing the limited momentum it has achieved, in part because some units of the Russian Ministry of Defense have been transferred to other sectors," the British Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday.
Zelensky handed out awards to soldiers defending Bakhmut during a morale-boosting visit on Wednesday. "It is an honor to support our warriors who defend the country in the most difficult conditions on the front line," he said later in his nightly address.
Protracted resistance by Ukrainian troops has yet to justify his decision to ignore some Western calls for a tactical withdrawal from Bakhmut as the Russian offensive approached.
"This is a tactical issue for us," Zelensky told CNN in early March, explaining his decisions and insisting that Kyiv's military elite was united in its decision to defend the city.
"We think that after Bakhmut, the Russians could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Slavyansk. After Bakhmut, the Russians would have an open path to other cities of Ukraine, in the direction of Donetsk," concluded Zelensky.