What to know about the Battle of Bakhmut, when Russian soldiers entered the eastern city


A view of the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on October 15. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

After weeks of bloody battles, Russian forces are getting closer and closer to capturing the city of Bakhmut. Here’s what you need to know about Battle of Bakhmut:

Why is Bakhmut in the spotlight?

Bakhmut is not the city Moscow hoped to fight in the second year of its occupation – it is a relatively small place east of Donetsk that has been left out of reach by the slow-moving ground campaign. Russia for many months.

Russian forces have again gained ground around the city, but Ukrainian forces have yet to retreat, leading to a stalemate reminiscent of the endless battles for other cities in the east, such as Severodonetsk, last year.

The capture of Bakhmut represents a military advance for Russian President Vladimir Putin and gives his forces the ability to launch airstrikes against more urban areas in the west.

What is happening in the field?

There are still about 4,500 civilians in Bakhmut, including 48 children, Tetyana Ignatchenko, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s regional military administration in Donetsk, told CNN on Wednesday. He urged people to evacuate the city due to the danger.

But Ukrainian forces have admitted that holding the city is becoming increasingly difficult as Russian forces, which have advanced both north and south of Bakhmut, squeeze the roads from the west.

Ukraine’s military has also confirmed that it is recruiting experienced fighters from the private Russian military company Wagner as Russian forces attempt to capture the city.

What does Bakhmut mean for war?

The capture of the city represents a long-awaited success for Moscow’s forces and provides limited strategic value. It has important road connections with other parts of Donetsk region; in the east to the border of Luhansk, in the north-west to Slavyansk and to the south-west to Kostiantynovka.

If the Russians could take the high ground west of the city, the nearby industrial towns of Kostiantynivka and Kramatorsk would be at the mercy of their artillery and even long-range mortars. And if the Ukrainian troops retreat from the city, it is not known exactly where they will retreat.

It was also important to Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigogine, who wanted to show that his men could deliver by capturing Soledar, now Bakhmut.

But according to experts, the capture of Bakhmut is unlikely to fundamentally change the overall picture of the war in eastern Ukraine, where a small number of territories have passed into the hands of 2023.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Vasco Cotovio, Olga Wojtowicz, Jesse Gretener, Eleanor Pixton and Laura Ford contributed reporting.

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