Bitter fighting in Bakhmut has been branded “worse than Stalingrad” in a harrowing video testimonial shared by what appears to be a Ukrainian soldier. Ukraine‘s armed forces are battling to push Russian Wagner mercenaries out of the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, including a formidable metal works that Kyiv’s forces had intended to use as a fortress. In one combat video, Ukrainian infantryman talks about the ongoing clashes with Russia‘s Wagner fighters that have taken place inside the AZOM metal works complex while gunfire and explosions can be heard in the distance.
The soldier claimed that the Ukrainian forces were trying to storm the positions of the Russian mercenaries, who had entrenched themselves inside the industrial complex.
The 41-second clip was shot on Thursday and made public on Sunday.
With what appears to be a sniper rifle or a light machine gun slung over his shoulder, the soldier in the footage is seen moving through the complex.
He likened the fighting in Bakhmut to the notoriously bloody Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.
According to Western intelligence, Ukrainian forces were bolstering their defences at AZOM in order to draw the Wagner mercenaries into a protracted siege and deplete their personnel and supplies.
The Institute for the Study of War, a prominent defence think tank, has asserted that Russia‘s attempt to seize the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine appears to have come bogged down.
Despite ongoing ground assaults by Russian forces and the Wagner Group, the ISW claimed that there was no proof of any verified advancements made by Russian forces in the city.
The Wagner Group’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, recognized the difficult circumstances in Bakhmut on the messaging service Telegram.
According to Serhii Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, combat in the Bakhmut region has increased in intensity over the past week.
According to earlier reports, paramilitary troops from the Wagner Group had taken control of the majority of eastern Bakhmut.
The ISW report, however, challenges this assertion and asserts that Russia will find it difficult to maintain the assault without suffering substantial personnel losses.
Meanwhile, in its latest report, the UK Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the impact of heavy Russian military casualties in Ukraine varies dramatically across Russia.
The British military’s intelligence update said Moscow and St. Petersburg remained “relatively unscathed,” particularly among members of Russia‘s elite.
In many of Russia’s eastern regions, however, the death rate as a percentage of the population is “30-40 times higher than in Moscow,” the MoD said. It added that ethnic minorities often take the biggest hit.
In the southern Astrakhan region, for example, about “75 percent of casualties come from the minority Kazakh and Tartar populations.”
Russia’s mounting casualties are reflected in a loss of government control over the country’s information sphere, the Institute for the Study of War said.
The think tank said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed “infighting in the Kremlin inner circle” and that the Kremlin has effectively ceded control over the country’s information space, with Putin unable to readily regain control.