Bakhmut is in news so I believe you know about it.
Still, it takes little to share: Bakhmut, or Artyomovsk, is part of a 70-km defense line of Ukraine in Donbass, the eastern Ukraine the securing of which is the stated goal of Moscow.
Now it is conceded even by the West that Russia has all but secured Bakhmut but the Pentagon is saying it won’t mean the tide of the war has changed.
Kiev is saying it has only symbolic value and media is telling us it would be Russia’s first major victory since it put its boots in Ukraine in February last.
Now it can’t be symbolic if the fighting has raged on in Bakhmut for months and tens of thousands have been killed. It also can’t be Russia’s first candy since Mariupol is still fresh in mind but for those in amnesia.
The premium on Bakhmut is for good reason since Russia would now surely look to secure Kramtorsk and Slaviansk (see map), only 30 miles on its west, which would give it Donbass (Luhansk and Donetsk).
With Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions already in kitty, together with Luhansk and Donetsk now, the four regions which chose to go with Russia in September last, Moscow would look at the map (see below) and see a neat symmetry aligning itself into Crimea, home of its Black Sea Fleet; which reducing Azov Sea to as no better than a pond in its backyard.
So it’s a bit of a stretch to claim Bakhmut means nothing for this is where Ukraine had dug themselves in for nine years with all those trenches, fortifications and camouflages, for this very day.
But these defenses have now been blown away; Kramtorsk and Slaviansk are next in queue for Russia would be controlling all the major roads and train routes of this region: And as we all know, supply lines are the lifeline of any military operation.
That’s the reason Volodymyr Zelenskyy is refusing to pull out of Bakhmut:
Even though no less than 10,000 of his troops have been encircled and would either surrender or die;
Even when his commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny is at odds with him against continuing to throw his men in the “meat-grinder” since the life expectancy on frontline is only four hours presently;
Even when Washington reportedly asked Kiev to give up Bakhmut in January itself.
It’s not that Zelenskyy is buying time in wait for an imminent supply of promised tanks from the West.
First, how do you bring the tanks to the scene of action? There are hardly any functional bridge left to carry their weight;
Secondly, how do you repair these tanks? For that could only be done hundreds of miles away either in Poland or Slovakia;
It’s also not as if Ukraine is blessed with unlimited supply of ammunition or men either.
The European Commission itself concedes that Ukraine presently is firing only 5,000-6,000 artillery shells a day compared to 50,000 by Russia.
Estonia, which is one of largest contributors on the ground to Ukraine, confesses Ukraine fires no more than 7,000 rounds compared to 60,000 by Russia daily.
That is no more than 200,000 shells fired by Ukraine compared to 1.8 million shells Russia fired last month!
This is a 10 to 1 advantage to Russia; and which also explains the Ukrainian casualty is 10 compared to one Russian on an average.
The truth is, Russia fires in a day what artillery Europe produces in a month.
Scary is the prospect, by Estonia’s own estimate, that Russia could increase its ammunition production sevenfold in no time.
So why is Zelenskyy holding fort? Why is he rushing towards the bitter end in Bakhmut?
A few things are obvious:
One, it would be difficult for West to justify billions of funds and arms to its citizenry, already simmering below the surface, in case of a major reverse;
Two, it could seriously affect the morale of Ukrainian army for they know the significance of Bakhmut;
Three, it could lead to a revolt within the inner circle of Zelenskky where no less than his commander-in-chief is tipped as the new man in charge.
One does wonder if all of this was worth for Ukraine.
They had signed Minsk Agreements with Russia, through the offices of France and Germany in 2015, promising to “prevent the prosecution and punishment of people” in eastern Ukraine but as we all know now, didn’t mean a word of the international contract;
They had the opportunity to sign the peace deal before being dissuaded by the ex-UK prime minister Boris Johnson, not to say multiple approaches Russia had made for peace, leading up to its foray into Ukraine last February;
It now stares at a land which is reduced to a rump, possibly to-be-gobbled up by its neighbours, like vultures do to carcass;
It’s people have run away; economy has drowned; government is but a collection of oligarchs who are fattening themselves on blood money while pushing the world to its date with nuclear extinction.
Does it really think it would wave a magic wand with a few extra tanks, a few extra aircrafts, a few more bodies strewn on the killing fields?
Of course we won’t read it in the newspapers who would furnish some comic relief in the form of a “spy balloon” or other such nonsense: Only meant to distract and take our attention away from the writing on the wall.
And all this while we thought Goebbels is dead!
He is very much alive and kicking and visits us everyday in the form of rolled up sheets in our frontyards or balconies.
Bakhmut of course doesn’t mean that the Ukraine Conflict is ending anytime soon.
In coming day we would hear more often of “terrorist attacks” on Crimea and one could also not rule out that Russia would roll up its sleeves to take care of Romania and Poland, all but hostile Ukraine by other name.
The war would only get wider unless the other neighbours get rid of the death-wish to become another Ukraine.