How the battle for Bakhmut is progressing – the situation in the city

2 March, 04:39 PM
The situation in the Bakhmut area is difficult (Photo:Alex Babenko/Reuters)

The situation in the Bakhmut area is difficult (Photo:Alex Babenko/Reuters)

Here, first of all, there is an artillery war. The infantry adjusts the artillery, hides from the enemy artillery, and strikes back.

The battles for Bakhmut are different from the way battles usually took place and are taking place on other areas of the front. Well, how did we imagine the lion's share of hostilities in other areas? This is when there are trenches and fighters sit in the trenches. Here, first of all, there is an artillery war. The infantry adjusts the artillery, hides from the enemy's artillery, and fires back primarily with the help (in the case of infantry) of mortars. And Bakhmut is very different in this sense, because here there are both contact battles and battles with the help of small arms, and assaults occurs at a distance that allows the use of these particular small arms. But at the same time, mortars are one of the most common means of defeating the enemy on both sides of the front line. When it comes to fighting in the city – this is when the architecture of the battlefield allows you to get close, and as a result, small arms are like a rabbit’s foot – a lucky charm.

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Russia fights quantitively. As a result of this, the Ukrainian army is forced to fight with quality. Yes, they have more barrels, more personnel, but the Russians fight with meat. This is the practice that the Ukrainian army, fortunately, cannot   afford   to   copy.   Well,   the   situation   in   Bakhmut   is   this:   this   meat   has come so close that you can see the face of this meat, and this leaves an impression on the fighting.

Bakhmut is incredibly damaged. One of my friends said a few days ago: it is better to fight here and destroy the enemy here, because the alternative is just the same fights, but in some other place. And if it is not Bakhmut, then it maybe another city, which is still in the rear.

Even now, civilians who still do not want to leave the city remain in Bakhmut. I will refer to my friend again: he says that these are people who are more afraid of the possibility of moving to a new place than the possibility of coming under fire. I didn’t do much of it, but I had to talk to the locals. They say that no one wants to take us in, we were born here, and if something hap-pens, let it happen where we have lived all our lives, we do not trust the state, so we don't want to rely on the possibility that the state will help us somehow in a new place.

In this sense, I understand that the war completely changes the traditional relationship between the citizen and the state. In war, the collective interest of the survival of the state is the primary, while private interest becomes, unfortunately, secondary – but these are the strict laws of war. And in the end, only in war can the state take its citizen, make him a soldier and send him to the trench so that he risks his own life for the survival of collective entities like the state, sovereignty, and so on.

Now about how I assess our chances of keeping Bakhmut. I was just talking to a friend about this question a few days ago. I was talking about the idea that the defense of a given settlement is not necessarily an end in itself. Now I will try to explain what exactly I mean.

In our country, the public's attention is focused on a certain settlement, around which there are very fierce battles. But Bakhmut is not the first such Ukrainian city. There was Mariupol, there was Severodonetsk, where also at one time there were very fierce battles, and the road to Severodonetsk, which was held by military personnel, Lysychansk, and so on. It is necessary to understand that there is a certain military logic in the battles for any front-line city. Relatively speaking, we manage to use the situation in such a way that the enemy suffers comparatively bigger losses than the defenders of this city. In other words, we have to use some settlement as a fortified area, which the Russians are simply closing in on.

Then the defense of this settlement makes sense. If, for example, the reverse situation happens - when the defenders of the city and the army begin to suffer many more losses than the attacking army, if the Ukrainian army begins to lose more resources than the army of our enemy, then perhaps Command will make a decision about moving the front line. Or if there is a huge threat of some military units being encircled, then Command also makes a completely logical at-tempt to somehow adjust this front line.

That is, in this sense, we still remain David, not Goliath. We are the side that is,first of all, defensive. And in this sense, to what extent can I rely even on my not very extensive military experience (I have only been in the Armed Forces for a year), I simply understand that the ratio of losses during the defense of a certain settlement is probably something that justifies the further defense of this settlement or doesn’t justify it.

Now about those who are there from the opposite side of Bakhmut. There are very different divisions. There are units that are trained, which we traditionally attribute to the elite of the enemy army - paratroopers, marines or special forces and so on. They fight according to the book, professionally using everything that must be used in military science. And there are units which are difficult even to call units, I don't know, mobs whom no one taught anything, convicts, probably. And they are used simply as cannon fodder. And this is also noticeable.

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About the expectations of tanks from the West. It is clear that we will not be able to carry the war ourselves. It is clear that the Ukrainian army is very dependent on the supplies that come to us from the West. But I cannot say that these same "Leopards" in the army are treated with the same reverence. This cult is in the rear, because in some areas tanks can be depended on much less than artillery, and shell starvation can harm units of the Ukrainian army much more than the lack of tanks. So I can’t say that everyone is waiting for the Leopards. Munitions for artillery are more important than the presence of a few units or a few dozen units of modern armored vehicles.

About the end of the war. I am the kind of person who usually has very minimalist forecasts, very conservative forecasts. I don't really believe that the war will end this year, and I don't even know if it will end next year – well, because wars very rarely last a year or two and then end. Especially wars which are so important   in   their   consequences.   We   understand   how   important it is for Ukraine not to lose in this war. This is simply about survival, about preserving our statehood, but, at the same time, I am convinced that in Russia, it is Putin himself who also perceives this war as his political legacy and it is very important for him not to lose. So this will mean that he will continue to be ready to bury his soldiers  in Ukrainian soil. And I simply in this sense adhere to the motto "you shouldn’t have expectations, in order to avoid being disappointed.”

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