Russian forces began shelling Bakhmut on 5/17/2022. Russian forces launched massive ground attacks on 8/1/2022. Early November — much of the fighting around Bakhmut had descended into Trench warfare conditions (think World War I). The end of 2022 has come ‘n gone — Prigozhin still hasn’t delivered Bakhmut.
The overall strategic value of Bakhmut has been considered dubious by many analysts, observing that the resources ‘n lives Russia has spent assaulting the city far outweigh its importance — Pyrrhic victory. It reflects how desperate the Russians are for any type of ‘Win‘ at this point — ‘n why they need to use Barrier troops in order to get any forward movement at all.
Russia’s losses in this war, that they started, has led to exposing their once World-Class military as not much more than a Third-Class impostor.
Russia has been in a lot of wars since World War II, but has lost more troops in this unprovoked war against Ukraine than all those others combined — since World War II. That includes the Soviet–Afghan War from 1979 to 1989 (10-years!).
Russia has been unable to control the air, because they fear losing any more planes (304 so far) ‘n helicopters (289 so far).
They are stuck in Trench warfare conditions because they lack mobility. Russia has lost 6,774 Armored combat vehicles & 3,474 Tanks — so far.
Russia has lost so many troops that they can’t replace them fast enough — even tho they have held many extra conscriptions ‘n mobilizations (Drafts or whatever they call it in Russia??).
In Bakhmut, the Russians have now resorted to sending wave after wave of troop assaults — 72 one day, a 100 the next day, but constant wave after wave of daily assaults. Backed by Barrier troops behind them ‘n Ukrainians in front of them, these Russian troops are being fed into what is now called the Bakhmut “Meat Grinder”. Causalities have been high on both sides, but the Russian losses have been staggering.
Most everyone was expecting Ukraine to conduct a controlled-withdrawal from Bakhmut, then this happened:
- 1) 6 March 2023 — Wagner mercenary chief warns the entire Russian frontline is at risk of COLLAPSING if his troops fail to take Bakhmut and are forced to retreat.
- 2) 7 March 2023 — Kyiv to Send More Troops Into Bakhmut.
- 3) 10 March — Ukraine says Bakhmut battle is grinding down Russia’s best units.
As mentioned earlier, the end of 2022 has come ‘n gone — Prigozhin still hasn’t delivered Bakhmut. Someone is going to be blamed for Putin’s numerous mistakes in this unprovoked war against Ukraine, the finger-pointing has been going on for months now, and Prigozhin’s promised victory in Bakhmut by the end of 2022 now hangs over him like a ‘Sword of Damocles‘.
Strategic planning vs Political goals & Pyrrhic victories
Now everyone understands why NATO was founded — Strategic planning. Attacking their neighbors has been Russia’s Modus Operandi (M.O.) for centuries. Unfortunately for Ukraine, they were never allowed into NATO; however, it is now clear that they had Strategically planned for future attacks from Russia.
It appears that Russia’s focus was on Putin’s Political goals ‘n his legacy — whilst he ‘n his cronies were also plundering Russia. What Strategic planning may have been going on, seems to have been more propaganda than actual improvements of the Russian military. Russia had supposedly been reorganizing the Russian Armed Forces since 2008/2009 — which supposedly continued under Putin’s Minister of Defense lapdog Sergei Shoigu.
14-years of supposedly modernization of the Russian military going on, and they couldn’t even gain air superiority over Ukraine, plus their tanks were like sitting-ducks on the actual battle field.
Absolutely no Strategic planning, i.e., no reliable Strategic planning was happening before Putin gave the ridiculous order to reinvade Ukraine!?
Now Russia is stuck wid tens-of-thousands of dead Russian troops, and using Trench warfare & Wave assault tactics!?! Prigozhin seems to be the ‘appointed‘ scapegoat, for Putin’s disastrous decisions, no matter how the Battle for Bakhmut turns out.
Rivalry between Prigozhin & Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)
On 29 January 2023 I wrote this post: Russia’s ‘Musical Chairs’ of Generals & its non-stop ‘Infighting’ (note The people’s panopticon – The promise of open-source intelligence section for later in this post). Less than 2-months later it appears that Prigozhin has clearly ended up on the short end of the stick.
This report establishes a comprehensive timeline of the rivalry between Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), which likely reached a boiling point over Bakhmut. The report also analyzes the Russian MoD’s likely intent to expend Wagner forces in Bakhmut and explores Russian President Vladimir Putin’s manipulation of this conflict to maintain the stability of his regime.
Russia is in a total mess right now, e.g., Putin lost control over Russia’s information space, which was even “confirmed” by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova. Unusual? You BET!!! Putin has claimed that Russia is in this war for the “long term,” and yet he is unable to maintain control over Russia’s *OWN* information space — after just 1-year!?! Prigozhin’s Wagner Group has been the only source for offensive movements, and yet his status after Bakhmut is now questionable.
Snip .. The Russian MoD – specifically Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov – is likely seizing the opportunity to deliberately expend both elite and convict Wagner forces in Bakhmut in an effort to weaken Prigozhin and derail his ambitions for greater influence in the Kremlin. The Russian MoD had been increasingly restricting Prigozhin’s ability to recruit convicts and secure ammunition, forcing Prigozhin to publicly recognize his dependency on the Russian MoD. Prigozhin, for example, publicly complained that he mailed a letter and tried to send his representative – likely to Shoigu and Gerasimov – with an urgent demand for ammunition, but that the representative was not allowed to present his complaints. Prigozhin had been able to grow his forces by 40,000 convicts likely with the Kremlin’s permission to recruit in prisons in 2022 but lost that permission and access to that manpower pool at the beginning of 2023. Prigozhin has threatened to withdraw Wagner forces from Bakhmut and insinuated that the Russian MoD used Wagner to bear the brunt of the high-intensity attritional urban warfare to seize Bakhmut in order to conserve Russian conventional forces. These threats and complaints indicate that Prigozhin is aware of the gravity of his conflict with the Russian MoD.
Again, Prigozhin’s promise to Putin to deliver victory in Bakhmut by the end of 2022 comes back to haunt him. Open Source Research — ‘It is a welcome threat to malefactors and governments with something to hide‘.
The Russian military leadership may be trying to expend Wagner forces – and Prigozhin’s influence – in Bakhmut. Russian forces’ rate of advance in Bakhmut slowed following the Ukrainian withdrawal from eastern Bakhmut around March 7. ISW assessed on March 6 that Wagner had to commit its elite forces to maintain offensive momentum in Bakhmut but may be running out of these forces during direct assaults on eastern, southern, and northern parts of Bakhmut. Geolocated footage published on February 18 showed 43 buses with Wagner mercenaries moving from Crimea via Melitopol possibly to reinforce positions in Bakhmut. Prigozhin complained on March 5 and 6 that Wagner needed additional reinforcements, and Ukrainian military officials observed that Russian forces were suffering a seven-to-one casualty ratio compared to Ukrainian forces.
“43 buses with Wagner mercenaries” didn’t last long — 18 Feb to 5/6 March — and Prigozhin is already needing more.
Prigozhin likely anticipated that Ukrainian forces would entirely withdraw from Bakhmut out of fear of imminent encirclement and hoped that his commitment of Wagner’s elite forces would be sufficient to generate that effect. Prigozhin even offered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to allow Ukrainian forces to withdraw from Bakhmut in two days on March 3. Limited information about the Prigozhin’s pleas likely indicates that the Russian military command is intent on expending Wagner forces within the city .. Snip .. Ukrainian servicemen noted in a social media video from March 12 that they are holding positions in Bakhmut waiting for Russians to “shoot each other.” Russian military leadership may be allowing the Wagner Group to take high casualties in Bakhmut to simultaneously erode Prigozhin’s leverage while capturing the city at the expense of Wagner troops.
Snip .. Putin had ultimately allowed the Russian MoD to retake control of the Bakhmut direction from Prigozhin in January as Wagner forces failed to deliver the promised victory over Bakhmut by the end of 2022. Putin appeared in several meetings with Gerasimov and Shoigu in late December 2022, likely indicating that he was not confident that Prigozhin would achieve the promised victory before the end of the year.
Be sure to read the entire — ISW March 12, 8 pm ET — article. Institute for the Study of War (ISW) utilizes the fairly new Open Source Research communities for much of their info, which is probably why they are accurate so often. They are now being quoted by many major News agencies. In the — Media & Investigative Links to Russia’s War on Ukraine — post I offer links to some other Open Source Research sites or sites that use it.
The promise of open-source intelligence — ‘It is a welcome threat to malefactors and governments with something to hide‘.
Heavy ‘infighting in the Kremlin inner circle‘ which has led to Putin’s inability to control his own Russian information space. Staggering Russian causality rates throughout this war. Desperate for a ‘Win‘ even if it’s just a Pyrrhic victory. Resorting to using Trench warfare & Wave assault tactics, after being unable to gain air superiority, and also unable to even use the mobility of their once feared mechanized/armored divisions.
All that ‘n more — as a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive could begin at any time over the next couple of months. Dig this — Ukraine Reveals Timetable for Counteroffensive:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide said in an interview published on Friday that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are preparing for a counteroffensive that will begin in about two months.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the presidential office, provided the estimated timeline during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. He added Ukraine’s military will first concentrate on trying to retain control of the city Bakhmut.
No biggie, since everyone knows it is coming, but interesting when coming from ‘the adviser to the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.‘