The surrounding mountainous terrain, along with the army’s barricade system, made the city of Bakhmut an invincible fortress.
The landscape around Bakhmut, a strategic city in Eastern Ukraine, provides a natural defense for the city, making it an invincible fortress, said Colonel Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Air Force. Ministry of the Armed Forces of Ukraine commented on February 6.
Bakhmut is surrounded mainly by hills and is itself an obstacle for the Russian army.
Mr. Syrskyi said: “The military barricade system combined with nature has turned this area into an invincible fortress, where thousands of Russian soldiers have died. We are using all means. project, engineering capabilities as well as nature to destroy the most elite Russian forces”.
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, head of Russia’s private military company Wagner, also said on February 5 that the battle in Bakhmut was ongoing with no signs of Ukrainian forces withdrawing. “Ukraine’s Armed Forces are fighting to the end,” Prigozhin said.
American and Western officials are asking Ukraine to shift its focus from the brutal months-long war in the eastern city of Bakhmut to a potential offensive in the south, using a different tactic. The West believes that this scenario allows Ukraine to take advantage of new military equipment worth billions of dollars, which it recently pledged to aid.
Bakhmut has strategic significance for both Russia and Ukraine. If Moscow captures Bakhmut, it could disrupt Ukraine’s supply lines and open a way for the Russians to put pressure on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk – key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk, thereby taking full control of Donetsk.
For Ukraine, Bakhmut is not only a point of defense but also one of the major transport hubs, and the last in Donbass is in the hands of Kiev. All supply lines of the Ukrainian army to the Donbass must pass through here.
Major milestones in the Russian-Ukrainian war
February 2022: Russia opened a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, sending troops into the Northeast region, around Kyiv, Southern, and Eastern Ukraine.
March: Russia reduces the target of its military campaign to the eastern region after Ukraine counterattacks in some areas.
April: Russia steps up military operation in Donbass.
May: Russia focuses on the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia controls the port city of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The two sides began peace talks on February 28 but announced a complete end in May without reaching an agreement.
June-July: Russia uses its superiority of firepower to gain control of almost complete Lugansk and part of Donetsk. On July 3, Russia announced the expansion of its military operation beyond the border of Donbass in the east.
August: Ukraine launches counter-offensive in Kherson in the South.
September: Ukraine makes a surprise counterattack in Kharkiv, Northeastern Ukraine, forcing Russia to withdraw its troops. Ukraine claims to have regained 3,000 square kilometers of territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a moratorium on partial mobilization, which could help Russia send up to 300,000 more troops to Ukraine.
October: Russia annexes four Ukrainian breakaway regions: Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia. On October 5, Ukraine counter-attacked on the whole line, signing a decree excluding all possibilities of negotiating with Russia while President Putin was still in office.
On October 8, the Crimean bridge was attacked. Russia accuses Ukraine of being the culprit. On October 10, Russia launched a large-scale ambush operation throughout Ukraine, targeting military, energy, and communications infrastructure.
November: After being cut off by Ukraine, Russia was forced to withdraw its troops from Kherson city on the southern battlefield to the east bank of the Dnipro River.
December: The front line does not have many major changes. Russia has faced numerous attacks on military facilities deep in its territory. Moscow accuses Ukraine of being behind the incidents.
January 2023: Russia focused its attack on the Eastern battlefield, determined to control key areas from Ukraine, especially Bakhmut. Russia gained some of the vicinity, making a pincer stance around Bakhmut.
The West provides main battle tanks to Ukraine. Previously, the US and European countries have supported Kiev with many weapons, such as the HIMARS multiple-launch rocket system.