Ukraine disputes Western predictions of Bakhmut’s fall

9 March, 11:36 PM
Ukrainian military (Photo:REUTERS/Alex Babenko)

Ukrainian military (Photo:REUTERS/Alex Babenko)

NATO officials are not in full command of facts when they say that Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, could fall to Russian forces in near future, Ukraine’s Operational Command East spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi told Ukrainian TV broadcasters on March 9.

"I have some experience of communicating with experts from NATO headquarters," said Cherevatyi.

“The last war with which NATO had more or less tangential relations was the conflict in former Yugoslavia, which was much smaller in terms of scope, use of troops, etc.”

According to him, the alliance is more accustomed to stabilization, training, and peacekeeping missions.

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"It is difficult for them to fully understand the logic of the war here," Cherevatyi added.

“They approach it purely pragmatically with very dry calculations, sometimes not realizing that Ukrainians have developed much greater resilience, novel approcahes, and the power of tactical decisions over the year of military conflict. I think others need to learn from this. I think they are already studying it.”

He believes that such statements should be treated with respect, but with the understanding that they may not necessarily have been made with full grasp of the situation on the ground.

The spokesman added that a "vivid example" of this was in the beginning of the Russian invasion, when Western officials were counting down the hours until Kyiv fell.

On March 8, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut may be defeated in the coming days, but this will not necessarily be a turning point in the war.

According to him, what the Russians "lack in quality, they try to make up in quantity."

"They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days," Stoltenberg said.

The battle for Bakhmut has been going on since July 2022. Ukraine’s General Staff reports that the Russian army continues to try to surround and capture the town. The Russian forces have committed trained mercenaries from Wagner Group PMC and other regular units of the Russian army to try and capture the settlement.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov estimated Russia’s daily losses in the battle for Bakhmut at 500 men, killed and wounded.

On Feb. 28, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that reinforcements had been sent to Bakhmut. She assured that defending the town was a military, not a political decision.

Analysts at the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War also believe that Russian invasion forces will not be able to capture Bakhmut in the near future and force Ukrainian troops to withdraw, although they have secured a positional advantage in certain areas of the town.

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