Russia Denies Ukrainian Breakthrough in Bakhmut

May 12, 2023

Russia on Friday was pushing back against suggestions of a Ukrainian breakthrough on the eastern front lines following reported gains earlier this week.

On Wednesday reports emerged that Ukrainian forces had driven back Russia’s military from key positions in Bakhmut, giving Ukraine its first significant gains there in months.

At the same time, the chief of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was insisting that a long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive was already being undertaken in Bakhmut. 

His statements were backed up by a top Russian military blogger, Evgeny Poddubny, who wrote on Telegram, “Let’s assume that the enemy counteroffensive has begun,” after saying that the “Kyiv regime began the implementation of an operation to encircle our forces” in Bakhmut.

Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, however, have insisted that they need more time and ammo before initiating the counteroffensive. 

Even so, Kyiv has confirmed military advances on the outskirts of Bakhmut, though it has rejected claims of a major push to retake occupied territory. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Friday that their forces had retaken about “2 kilometers,” or 1.2 miles, “in the direction of Bahkmut.”

Overnight Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry asserted that statements “circulated by individual Telegram channels about ‘defense breakthroughs’ that took place in various parts of the front line do not correspond to reality.”

The Ministry’s statement—also posted on Telegram—goes on to say that the general situation in the area “is under control.”

Ukraine’s Maliar also said that their forces continue to be on the defensive, despite occasional counterattacks. “Actually, this situation in the east has been going on for several months,” she wrote on Telegram. “That’s it! Nothing more is happening.”

Bakhmut, a regional transport and logistics hub, if taken by Russia would give its forces an opening to advance on two bigger Ukrainian cities in the Donetsk region: Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

PHOTO: Bakhmut, February 2023

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