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14 Apr, 2023 10:24

Breakdown: What is known about the surrounded Ukrainian troops in Artyomovsk (Bakhmut)

How is the fighting developing and what can we expect next?
Breakdown: What is known about the surrounded Ukrainian troops in Artyomovsk (Bakhmut)

By mid-April, the Ukrainian military group had been almost completely blockaded in the western part of Artyomovsk. Wagner PMC handed the northern and southern flanks over to the Russian forces and focused on clearing out city blocks. 

How many troops does Ukraine have left in the city?

According to RT’s sources, only four to seven battalions of Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized and 77th Air Mobile Brigades can be located inside the city to the west of the Artyomovsk railway line. Due to combat losses, as well as a shortage of medicine and ammunition, the actual number of soldiers in these units is significantly lower than usual, amounting to about 250-300 per battalion.

There are also three to five battalions of the 125th Territorial Defense Brigade and four or five battalions of the 241st Territorial Defense Brigade to the west of the railway line.

Taking into account foreign mercenaries, Ukrainian National Guard units, Territorial Defense forces, and military units, the total number of Ukrainian troops occupying the city might be slightly over 6,000.

The remaining forces, numbering about 30,000, are either dispersed in nearby suburbs (Khromov, Krasnoye, Stupochki, Bogdanovka, and Minkovka), or have withdrawn from Artyomovsk to the neighboring town of Chasov Yar for resupply and rearmament, and cannot be quickly thrown into a counterattack due to heavy losses and a lack of equipment.

What is happening inside Artyomovsk?

The timing of the destruction of the Ukrainian group, which is actually hemmed into western districts of the city, directly depends on which tasks are assigned to Wagner PMC and the Russian Armed Forces units operating on the flanks.

At the moment, 9,000 to 11,000 of Kiev’s troops are killed in Artyomovsk per month due to the battering of Ukrainian troops inside the city and nearby suburbs.

This has compelled the Ukrainian military to deploy reserves for the defense of Artyomovsk, which had been prepared for carrying out the previously announced counteroffensive.

However, the new reserves are occupying old targeted positions, leaving them vulnerable. To advance in the city, Wagner PMC employs semi-interception tactics. This is when Ukrainian units (from one or two companies) are enclosed in a ring and destroyed, and the area where the operation takes place is then blocked off so that the Ukrainian forces cannot quickly bring in reinforcements.

These tactics have already begun to significantly increase losses for the Ukrainian Armed Forces and lead to an acute shortage of reserves. The number of Ukrainian soldiers killed and wounded since the beginning of April exceeds the number of reinforcements received. As the Russian Armed Forces advance on Artyomovsk from the flanks (north and south), more and more Ukrainian reserves are being killed on the roads between Chasov Yar and Artyomovsk’s western quarters.

When their supply line is finally completely cut off, the Ukrainian group in Artyomovsk (from Metallurg Boulevard in the north to the Bakhmut Industrial College area in the south) will face a choice: to fight until their ammunition is exhausted or use the weapons they have left to attempt a breakthrough in order to retreat from the city.

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