Ukrainian commander says battle for Bakhmut might be a turning point in the war and Ukraine is capable of holding the city

Colonel Yevhen Mezhevikin, commander of the Adam Tactical Group, believes that the battle for Bakhmut might be a turning point in the war and that Ukraine is capable of holding the city and pushing Russian troops out.

Source: The New York Times

Details: Colonel Mezhevikin said that he was confident that Ukrainian forces could keep holding the city and push Russian troops back farther.

If the Ukrainians hold their recent gains, the battles of the last month at Bakhmut could prove a turning point in Ukraine’s defence against Russia, not only stalling the latest Russian offensive but also in setting themselves up to deliver a knockout blow, he said.

Mezhivikin told the NYT that the Russian assaults have slowed and the imminent threat of encirclement has been thwarted. He added that "the enemy exhausted all its reserves."

Quote from Mezhivikin: "The density of assaults dropped by several times. Before, they could assault in all directions simultaneously and in groups of not less than 20, 30 or 40 people, but gradually it is dying down."

Details: Mezhivikin added that additional Ukrainian attack brigades were completing their training: "We are holding the enemy here for a bit more, and let them knock them back."

He explained that on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut, where Russian troops had tried to encircle the city in a pincers movement, the Russians were coming up against Ukraine’s most motivated units and no longer had momentum: "When they try to reinforce their units, to rotate, they are being destroyed at the very start."

The centre of Bakhmut, however, remained a hot spot where Russian troops were still attacking with significant force, the commander said: "All that’s left for them is to try to advance through the city, because the buildings protect them from fire."

Accounts from Ukrainian soldiers fighting inside the city indicated that Russian troops had concentrated their efforts on advancing through the city centre by using heavy artillery and aerial bombardment, demolishing resistance block by block. Some Ukrainian units have taken heavy losses and have had to be rotated out or reinforced by other units.

Mezhevikin said there were still strong Russian divisions guarding the critical points of defence but that regular Russian army units lacked morale and were easier to break. "It’s easier to fight them. They are running away," he said.

But Wagner units, which include convicts, were threatened with physical punishment if they retreated: "They are scared to give up and to leave positions. They prefer to die here."

The New York Times reported that the Adam Tactical Group deployed to Bakhmut six weeks ago.

The NYT journalists described the command centre directing operations in Bakhmut as "[h]idden in the bowels of an unmarked building, set well back from the fighting", "high-tech and humming".

According to the NYT, the command centre was bustling, with soldiers monitoring video screens with live feeds of destroyed buildings and a cratered battlefield.

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