If Russia succeeds in occupying Bashmoet, it will be akin to occupying the entire Donetsk province. Russian separatists in Donetsk claim to have captured the villages of Ivanrad and Obten in the past three days. These villages are located about 4 kilometers southeast of Bashmoet. British intelligence services also report that Russia is slowly gaining ground south of Bashmoet.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message Thursday evening that the Ukrainian army is not surrendering and that heavy fighting around Bach must continue. The Russian army is also attacking from the north-east of the city. The Russians also carried out a ground offensive on the outskirts of Donetsk city, the commander of the Ukrainian army unit there said Thursday.
Donetsk Province is one of four Ukrainian provinces annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin two weeks ago. Kherson and Luhansk provinces at that time were approximately in the hands of the Russian army. But in a third of Zaporizhzhya and almost half of Donetsk, the Russians have not yet established a foothold.
In the days following the annexation ceremony, Russia lost large tracts of land in Kherson to Ukraine. The Russian military is still under pressure there. Saturday’s explosion on the symbolically and strategically important Crimean bridge also dealt a severe blow to Russia.
It is clear that Russia has now set its sights on the conquest of territory in the Donetsk province, through Bashmoit. Last weekend, the army made frantic but unsuccessful attempts to advance into the city. Before Zelensky demanded that they leave the city in July, Pashmoh had a population of only seventy thousand and had few businesses of economic importance except for salt mines and vineyards. It would essentially be a strategic asset for the Russians. It is relatively easy to get to Slovjansk and Kramatorsk from Bachmoet. The two important industrial cities of Donetsk are not (yet) in the hands of Russia.
On Monday, Russia launched missile attacks on about 15 Ukrainian cities in retaliation for the attack on the Crimean bridge. This also included cities that had been somewhat out of harm’s way for some time, such as Lviv and the capital, Kyiv. Since Monday, the Russian soldiers once again moved towards Bashmoet. Since then they have had modest successes. The Russian army is supported by Wagner mercenaries.
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