Russians are trying to advance in Bakhmut by “effectively marching on corpses of their own”, Ukraine’s chief military officer General Valerii Zaluzhnyi has revealed. The situation in the region is pushing Vladimir Putin’s forces to the extreme.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, said in a video published on social media that his troops are having to fight to capture every single house in the region against a strong Ukrainian line of defence.
He said: “The guys lock horns for every home, sometimes not just for one day. Sometimes for weeks over a single house. They take one home, they take a second, a third.
“What is breaking through the defences? It’s taking one house.
“If we say there are 500 lines of defence [in Bakhmut], probably we won’t be wrong. A line of defence every ten metres.”
Lamenting the lack of proper military equipment, he added: “We are lacking vehicles, BMP-3, and 100mm shells, in order to move through Arymovsk [the Russian name for Bakhmut] quicker and with more confidence.
“We’re lacking ammunition and armoured vehicles.”
Prigozhin also said there is a “fortress in every house” in Bakhmut.
It comes as the unauthorised use of cell phones by Russian soldiers led to a deadly Ukrainian rocket attack on the facility where they were stationed on Tuesday.
Russian Gen. Lt. Sergei Sevryukov said in a statement that phone signals allowed Kyiv’s forces to “determine the coordinates of the location of military personnel” and launch a strike. Sevryukov said unspecified measures were being taken to “prevent similar tragic incidents in the future” and promised to punish officials responsible for the infraction.
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The attack, one of the deadliest on the Kremlin’s forces since the start of the war over 10 months ago, occurred one minute into the new year, according to Sevryukov.
Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a US-provided HIMARS multiple launch system at a building “in the area of Makiivka” where the soldiers were stationed. Two rockets were downed but four hit the building and detonated, prompting the collapse of the structure. The Russian Defense Ministry initially said the strike killed 63 troops. But as emergency crews sifted through the rubble of the building, the death toll has grown to 89, Sevryukov said on Tuesday. The regiment’s deputy commander was among the dead.
Other, unconfirmed reports put the death toll much higher.
The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed Sunday that around 400 mobilised Russian soldiers were killed in a vocational school building in Makiivka and about 300 more were wounded. That claim couldn’t be independently verified. The Russian statement said the strike occurred “in the area of Makiivka” and did not mention the vocational school.
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The attack marked yet another setback for the Kremlin’s bogged-down war effort in Ukraine, undermined by a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. It stirred renewed criticism inside Russia of the way the war is being conducted.
Unconfirmed reports in Russian-language media said the victims were mobilised reservists from the region.
British military intelligence said on Tuesday: “Over the last 10 days, Ukraine has committed significant reinforcements to defend the sector and the frequency of Russian assaults have likely reduced from the peak in mid-December.
“Both sides have suffered high casualties. Russian offensive operations in the area are now likely being conducted at only platoon or section level.
“It is unlikely Russia will achieve a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in the coming weeks.”