Russia’s attempt at an offensive in the Donbas has failed after its armed forces suffered 100,000 casualties in the last five months of fighting over Bakhmut and other areas of Ukraine, the White House has said.
John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, said the figure, based on US intelligence estimates, included more than 20,000 dead, half of them from the Wagner mercenary group, which includes convicts released from prison to join the fighting.
“Russia’s attempt at a winter offensive in the Donbas largely through Bakhmut has failed,” Mr Kirby said.
“Last December, Russia initiated a broad offensive across multiple lines of advance, including toward Vuhledar, Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and Kreminna. Most of these efforts stalled and failed. Russia has been unable to seize any strategically significant territory.”
UK defense intelligence estimates 300,000 Russians died in combat since Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine.
Ukraine vows not to give up Bakhmut
Ukraine’s military vowed not to give up the eastern city of Bakhmut as it prepares to launch a counteroffensive against Russian forces.
General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, underlined the importance Kyiv attaches to holding Bakhmut as preparations continue for a counterattack which it hopes will change the dynamic of the war in Ukraine.
The battle for Bakhmut has symbolic importance for both sides, with Ukraine still holding on to some parts of the city after months of fierce fighting against regular Russian troops and fighters from the Wagner mercenary force.
“Together with the commanders, we have made a number of necessary decisions aimed at ensuring the effective defence and inflicting maximum losses on the enemy,” Syrskyi said in remarks released after a visit to troops fighting in Bakhmut.
“We will continue, despite all the forecasts and advice, to hold Bakhmut, destroying Wagner and other most combat-capable units of the Russian army,” he told soldiers in video footage of his visit. “We give our reserves an opportunity to prepare and we are preparing for further actions ourselves.”
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