Russia has claimed victory in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut after a grinding nine-month battle. The capture of the industrial city could reshape the future of the war between Russia and Ukraine and is a likely indicator that the conflict is nowhere near finished.
Russia launched an assault on the city last August, attempting to regain momentum against Ukraine after a string of defeats. The battle pitted the Russian Army and Wagner mercenary allies against entrenched Ukrainian defenders.
The battle brought considerable hardship to both sides, with Wagner’s commander Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming at one point that Russia was not adequately supplying its allies. Ukraine pinned much of its hopes on the battle for the eastern part of the country, called the Donbas, in keeping the city.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian and Wagner forces for the capture.
The fighting between the two sides has been described as the bloodiest battle in Europe since 1945.
The capture of the city also underlines the importance of the current combat for the future of the war.
This week, Ukrainian forces and a group claiming to be Russian dissidents launched an attack into Russian territory in the Belgorod Oblast.
Early reports from the fighting are still unclear. However, the region’s governor claimed that Ukrainian saboteurs had entered Russian territory.
Pro-Ukrainian fighters claimed that they had seized a town within Russia and were advancing on another. Photos and video appear to show heavy fighting in this region of western Russia.
Russian authorities said Monday that there were at least twelve deaths due to the combat. The region ordered the evacuation of some civilians near the Ukrainian border due to the attack.
Ukrainian Artillery is continuing to Shell Positions of the Russian Military and Settlements in the Belgorod Region of Western Russia tonight; with some Towns including the Town of Grayvoron sending out SMS Messages saying for Citizens to Take Shelter until further notice. With…
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) May 22, 2023
One video of Russian-speaking fighters aligned with Ukraine claimed that they wanted to end the “dictatorship of the Kremlin.”
Meanwhile, Moscow stated that the effort of the incursion was “to divert attention from the Bakhmut direction and minimize the political effect of Bakhmut’s loss for the Ukrainian side.”