Russia Claims Victory in Prolonged Battle for Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine

Russia has claimed control of Bakhmut, a city in Eastern Ukraine that has been the site of a prolonged and brutal battle during the Ukraine war. Moscow has declared it a major victory, but it comes at an astounding cost.[0] The capture of Bakhmut is a symbolic victory for Russia, but the exact implications for the future course of the conflict remain unclear. Ukraine is rejecting claims that Russian forces fully captured the city and has said it still controls a small part of Bakhmut, confusing the narrative about the victory.

Russia has long claimed that capturing Bakhmut would be a stepping stone towards advancing deeper into the Donbas region it claims to have annexed from Ukraine. Despite the failure to capture any significant ground elsewhere, a massive offensive has made it the primary target.[1] Should Russia successfully capture Bakhmut, it would mark its initial significant acquisition of territory since the previous summer. The winter counteroffensive by Russia was unsuccessful in achieving any major progress, with their most notable accomplishment this year being the capture of Bakhmut, or whatever remains of it.[0]

Russia's Ministry of Defense announced that Bakhmut had been conquered over the weekend, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia celebrated the city's “liberation” They both acknowledged the involvement of the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization linked to the outspoken oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, in the mission.[0] Putin congratulated the Wagner paramilitary group and the Russian army “on the completion of the operation to liberate” Bakhmut, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website.[2]

If Bakhmut falls, it would be a significant win for Moscow after over 10 months of conflict, with both Russia and Ukraine experiencing significant losses.[1] The town of Bakhmut, known for its salt mines and a former populace of 70,000, has become the site of Russia's longest and deadliest conflict in Ukraine's 15-month war.

The Ukraine war's most protracted conflict is the fight for Bakhmut, which was previously a city inhabited by approximately 70,000 people. The Russian offensive began in earnest during the months of August and September last year.[0] There, a savage and primitive conflict has taken place, characterized by trench warfare, powerful artillery, and assaults by overwhelming numbers of soldiers.[0] The battle for Bakhmut tells us a lot about the war in Ukraine.[3]

According to Ukrainian military commanders, the area that had been heavily contested during the 15-month-long war saw some minor victories by Ukrainian troops after a prolonged stalemate.[4] Regardless of whether the Ukrainian forces have evacuated Bakhmut or not, they have been gradually retreating towards its western periphery, where they have congregated in groups of buildings.[1] In the north and south, they have captured large areas of land from Russian soldiers.[1]

Although there is disagreement about the precise numbers from both parties involved in the dispute, Russia continues to possess constantly changing power over most of the city.[4] According to the Kyiv Independent, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky, who leads Ukraine's ground forces, has declared that his troops are nearing a “tactical encirclement’ of Bakhmut,” of Bakhmut.[5] Earlier, the front line was visited by the commander.[6]

According to the White House, Russia's military has experienced approximately 100,000 casualties over the past five months, which includes the loss of 20,000 soldiers. Earlier this month, it was estimated by the United States that Russia has experienced 100,000 casualties, with 20,000 of them being fatalities. A significant number of these casualties occurred on the battlefields of Bakhmut. The use of convicts recruited by the Wagner Group was Russia's dependence as expendable fighters during this campaign.[0] The death toll for both Russia and Ukraine was intensified by those tactics.[0] Although not as severe as Russia's, Ukraine also incurred heavy casualties and exhausted significant amounts of equipment and artillery during the conflict, making their losses less transparent.[0]

The recent capture of Bakhmut by Russia signifies a significant triumph for Moscow and heightens the expectations for Ukraine's upcoming counterattack to achieve success. Ahead of its counteroffensive, Ukraine is rejecting claims that Russian forces fully captured the city and has said it still controls a small part of Bakhmut, confusing the narrative about the victory. For a long time, Moscow has asserted that seizing control of Bakhmut is crucial for making progress into the Donbas area, which it maintains as part of its annexation of Ukraine. Despite the failure to capture any significant ground elsewhere, a massive offensive has made it the primary target.[1]

The significance of Bakhmut in the broader war will probably become clear in the upcoming weeks and months.[0] Although Russia may have succeeded in taking control of Bakhmut, similar to their capture of Mariupol, the outcome is a city devastated by bombings. The responsibility of defending and securing it now lies with the Russian forces.[0] According to Prigozhin, Wagner's troops will depart from Bakhmut on Thursday to rest and recuperate, while conventional forces take their place.[5] It is uncertain if this will come to fruition, however, those present, whether they be Russian troops or Wagner combatants, must now maintain and strengthen control over the city.[0] And Russia will need additional reinforcements to hold Bakhmut, which would come “at the expense of operations in other directions.[5]

0. “The battle for Bakhmut might finally be over”, 22 May. 2023,

1. “Putin congratulates Russia troops, Wagner for ‘capturing Bakhmut’” Al Jazeera English, 21 May. 2023,

2. “Ukraine says it still has toe-hold in Bakhmut despite Putin’s ‘liberation’ claim” POLITICO Europe, 21 May. 2023,

3. “Latest in Ukraine: Zelenskyy scores F-16 training, as Russia claims to take Bakhmut” NPR, 22 May. 2023,

4. “WATCH: Helmet-cam shows intense battle in Ukraine's fight for Bakhmut” Business Insider, 20 May. 2023,

5. “Russian capture of Bakhmut intensifies pressure on Ukraine” The Hill, 22 May. 2023,

6. “Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 453” Al Jazeera English, 22 May. 2023,

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