LONDON (Agencies): According to an intelligence update from Britain on Friday, Ukrainian troops have been compelled to retreat from certain territory in the city of Bakhmut, as Russia has launched a renewed attack there with heavy artillery fire over the last two days.
The update stated that Russia’s defence ministry and its main mercenary force, the Wagner Group, have improved their cooperation, with Wagner taking the lead on the Russian side in the months-long battle. Although the Ukrainian defence still holds the western districts of the town, they have been subjected to particularly intense Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours.
The update also mentioned that Wagner units are now concentrating on advancing in the center of Bakhmut, while Russian paratroopers are relieving them in attacks on the city’s flanks. Bakhmut has been Russia’s primary target in a massive winter offensive that has resulted in little gain so far, despite infantry ground combat of an intensity unseen in Europe since World War Two.
The capture of the city would be Russia’s first significant victory in eight months and would open a route to capturing more territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, which is a major war aim for Moscow. Ukraine, on the other hand, is preparing for its own counteroffensive and has recently decided to fight on in Bakhmut, as Russia has reportedly been taking higher casualties trying to storm it.