Battle-Hardened Russian Troops in Bakhmut Brace for Ukraine’s Advancement: ISW Report


Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Pushes Forward, Wearing Down Russia’s Troops

As Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the southeast continues its advance toward Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that Russia’s troops are likely growing “weary” after a series of successes for Kyiv. Over the past week, Ukraine has made significant gains near Bakhmut, reclaiming the villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka to the south of the city. Kyiv initiated its counteroffensive more than three months ago to recapture Russian-occupied territory, and although the campaign is progressing slower than anticipated, signs are emerging that Ukraine is starting to wear Russia down along the front lines.

Signs of Weariness

The latest assessment by the ISW highlights the battle for Klishchiivka and Andriivka as potential factors behind Russia’s “battle-weary” state in the area. The capture of these two settlements by Ukraine, which were fiercely defended by Russian forces, suggests that these troops may struggle to replenish their combat strength and defend against further Ukrainian offensive activity south of Bakhmut. According to the ISW, this Ukrainian advancement could correspond with a severe degradation of the Russian units defending the villages.

A Ukrainian tank crew member looks out from a gun turret during a military exercise on June 27, 2023, in Donetsk Oblast. Ukraine’s recent advances around Bakhmut may be a sign that Russia’s troops stationed in the region are becoming “battle-weary,” according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Viktor Fridshon/Global Images Ukraine via Getty

Ukrainian military spokesperson Illia Yevlash announced that the liberation of Klishchiivka would grant Ukraine control over Russia’s ground lines of communication, which currently supply Russian forces clustered around the Bakhmut area. While the ISW was unable to independently verify the strength of Russia’s defensive lines around the city, it suggested that these positions might be less fortified than those in southern Ukraine.

Challenging Factors and Slow Progress

Despite Ukraine’s recent successes, the ISW cautions against assuming an immediate higher rate of advancement for Ukrainian forces south of Bakhmut. The report also highlights the likelihood of continued challenges posed by Russia’s defense positions west of the T0513 highway, which runs through Bakhmut. These factors suggest that progress in the area may still be slow and arduous for Ukraine.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces released a report on Monday, revealing that Russia had lost over 3,180 troops in the past week alone. This brings Moscow’s total casualties to an estimated 272,940 soldiers since the war began in February 2022. However, it is important to note that Newsweek was unable to independently verify this information, as Russia seldom comments on its own casualty figures.

According to U.S. officials’ estimates shared in The New York Times, the collective number of troops killed or wounded on both sides of the war is nearing 500,000. At the time of the report, Russia’s military casualties were believed to be approaching 300,000. However, officials acknowledged the difficulties in accurately estimating casualty figures in such conflicts.

Newsweek attempted to reach out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment on Monday night via email.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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