Ukraine Repels ‘Butcher Of Bakhmut’ Wagner Group’s Attacks

Above, a Ukrainian artilleryman from the 24th brigade carries empty artillery cartridge cases at a position along the front line in the vicinity of Bakhmut on Sunday, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have repelled Russian assaults near Bakmut as the battle for the city results in a deadlock, according to a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). Getty

Ukrainian forces have repelled Russian assaults near the city of Bakhmut as the battle for it resulted in a deadlock, according to a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

On Saturday, the ISW said that the Ukrainian General Staff claimed that Moscow-backed forces were repelled near Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

The report said assaults on towns and villages within 13 miles of the city had been pushed back, citing Russian blogs written by military service members or milbloggers.

“A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces also continued assaulting Ukrainian fortifications near Bakhmut, where they reportedly have minor tactical successes. Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have not yet captured Opytne and will likely not conduct a full-fleged assault on Bakhmut in the near term due to the likely associated high costs,” the ISW said in its latest assessment.

On Saturday, the ISW also said that Russian soldiers had carried out offensive operations in the Avdiivka-Donestsk city area.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said they repelled the Russian assaults southwest of Avdiivka, with one Russian milblogger describing the fighting as a “sluggish meat grinder.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin also risks losing support from proxy leaders in the Donetsk region after forces were unable to push Ukrainian soldiers away from the artillery range of Donetsk city, according to the ISW’s report.

Igor Girkin, a Russian army veteran and former defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, was among those who “directly” criticized the Russian leader.

According to the ISW, Girkin “specifically criticized” Putin’s statement on December 9 that described the progress of the “special military operation” as “stable.”

In a Telegram post, Girkin said: “[Putin] “assured us that the Special Military Operation was proceeding normally, calmly, according to plan (however, this time, he did not add anything about being ahead of schedule).”

In addition, the ISW added in its assessment that Russian authorities planned to launch programs in Russia and occupied regions of Ukraine “to prepare children for eventual military service.”

“The creation of such programs indicates that Russian authorities are investing in long-term force generation capabilities. A Russian anti-mobilization news outlet reported on December 9 that Russian authorities plan to open military training centers in 10 Russian regions to provide children from 14 to 18 with ‘military sports training’ and ‘patriotic education,'” the U.S.-based think tank reported.

It continued: “Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev announced that the centers will exist because every Russian child should ‘be able to defend their Motherland’ and so that Russian soldiers who fight in Ukraine can ‘return home alive.'”

Trutnev projected the pilot program in 2023 will enroll 45,000 schoolchildren, although the ISW said it was unclear how Russian authorities planned to incentivize the schemes.

In addition, Russia attempted to solidify gains made following its invasion of the Eastern European country in late February by annexing regions of it. In September, Moscow annexed the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in a move seen as illegitimate by the United States and its allies.

According to Reuters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia has no further plans to seize more territory from Ukraine.

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