RUSSIA pushed forward just 60ft a day, suffered up to 100,000 casualties, and left Bakhmut a shattered hellscape in a painfully slow grinding nine month advance.
Vladimir Putin's forces took almost 300 days to seize control of the city which has been described as having only limited wider strategic importance to the war in Ukraine.
Dawn broke today over the wasteland as pictured showed smoke still rising from the ruins of Bakhmut – that was once home to 73,000 Ukrainians.
Pictures showed still burning buildings and totally ruined streets devoid of all life after months of what has been described as a "bloodiest battle" of the war in Ukraine.
Bakhmut is a salt-mining city in the east- and was located between 10 and 15 miles from the borders of the pro-Russian regions which attempted to breakaway in 2014.
Rebel groups did attempt to attack the city at the time – but were repelled by the Ukrainians.
READ MORE ON BAKHMUT
Shock messages & photos reveal inside Wagner Group as they plot to oust Putin
How US-made ‘Swiss Army Knife’ F-16 jets will help Ukraine blitz Russians
And the city itself is only 16 square miles – and around four miles across, meaning you could walk from west to the east in around on hour.
But instead pushing through the city has taken the Russians nearly 300 days since the Bakhmut offensive began on August 1.
Bakhmut was described as British defence officials has having "limited operational value".
Ukraine had been holding the city in an effort to whittle down Russian forces – and to deprive them of a symbolic win.
Most read in The Sun
This Morning fans slam 'insincere' and 'bizarre' tribute to axed Phil Schofield
Eamonn Holmes hits out at Phil & Holly in furious new rant
This Morning star reveals she's pregnant with second child amid show turmoil
More shocking details of Phillip Schofield’s This Morning axing revealed
"The offensive potential of the enemy has been significantly reduced, huge losses have been inflicted on the enemy, we have gained time for certain actions, which will be revealed later," said Ukrainian deputy defence chief Hanna Maliar.
Ukraine says their soldiers have played a key role in their strategy of exhausting the Russians.
And they say their current positions in the areas surrounding Bakhmut will let them strike back inside the 400-year-old city.
The city was immediately on the frontline of the war when Putin invaded on February 24, 2022 – being regularly shelled by the Russians
But it wasn't until last August that the Russians made the city its prime target – pouring in troops in staggering numbers.
The Russian army has suffered such high losses and is so worn out around Bakhmut that … it cannot go forward anymore
Russia have estimated to have suffered up to 100,000 casualties – including 20,000 dead – during the battle.
Nato officials believe the Ukrainians had been holding the Russians at a rate of five-to-one – meaning they lost around 20,000 men.
The fighting devolved into brutal hand-to-hand and street-by-street combat – with some reports putting a the life expectancy for those on the frontline to be just four hours.
Bakhmut had become a highly symbolic battle for both Ukraine and Russia – being dubbed a "meat grinder" and compared to the World War 1 battles such as the Somme and Verdun.
Russian forces – led by the Wagner Group mercenaries and their deranged warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin – claimed to have captured the city over the weekend.
Ukraine however remained defiant – and President Volodymyr Zelensky denied the city was occupied while his forces appeared to be regrouping on the outskirts.
Ukraine's tactical gains in the rural area outside urban Bakhmut could be more significant than they seem, according to some analysts.
Phillips O'Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews said: "It was almost like the Ukrainians just took advantage of the fact that, actually, the Russian lines were weak.
"The Russian army has suffered such high losses and is so worn out around Bakhmut that … it cannot go forward anymore."
The Institute for the Study of War reports that Ukrainian troops have bunkered down in the city's southwest on highway T0504.
It added there has been a "tacit acknowledgement" from Ukraine that the Russians control the rest of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian forces however report they are continuing to push and are moving to encircle some of the Russian forces.
"The fighting continues," said Ukraine's deputy defence minister Ganna Malyar.
"The battle for the dominant heights on the flanks — north and south of the suburbs — continues."
Prigozhin meanwhile said the mercenaries had set up "defence lines" on the western outskirts of the city before a planned transfer of control to the Russian army.
"If the ministry of defence does not have enough personnel, we have thousands of generals," raged the warlord.
Wagner group boss Prigozhin has rising influence amongst the Russian elite as he's taken increasing prominence during the war in Ukraine.
And he's started to be openly critical of Putin's regime and the Russian army.
His stock will be high as he is being celebrated in Russian for finally appearing to take control of Bakhmut.
The fall of Bakhmut comes as Ukraine is poised to get F-16 fighter jets as the US finally agreed to hand them over – a move that could be key as the brutal 15-month war continues.
Russia's invasion was claimed by Putin to simply be a "special military operation" which would only last two weeks.
Now tens of thousands of Russians – up to 200,000 – are lying dead in the fields across Ukraine.
And millions of Ukrainian civilians have endured untold misery as the cities have been devastated and their homes stolen.
Putin foolishly believed his forces would be welcomed into Ukraine as liberators.
But instead, the initial attack ended in a disaster which saw his forces devastated and thrown back to Russia.
Kyiv also continues to call for Western arms which they believe they need to defeat the Russians.
Read More on The Sun
I hated my 34HH boobs… but then they paid off my family’s £130k debt
I’m a cleaning expert – all the things you should NEVER buy for your home
The world is awaiting to see what Ukraine will achieve in their upcoming counter-offensive – with hopes it could provide key gains across the frontline.
Source: Read Full Article