Hundreds of Russians killed in Bakhmut battle as snipers ‘created killing zone’

Hundreds of Russian troops have been killed in Bakhmut as Vladimir Putin’s forces try to wrest control of the frontline city of Donetsk – with Kiev snipers allegedly setting up a “killing zone”.

In Bakhmut alone, some 520 Russian troops have been killed and wounded in a single day, according to the Ukrainian military, which claims Russia has suffered 2,000 fatalities since Friday – some of the deadliest days of the war since the invasion began.

In a bid to make up for heavy casualties, Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his Wagner private army had opened recruiting centers in 42 cities — as the UK claimed the impact of casualties “varies dramatically” across Russian regions.

According to the British Ministry of Defence, losses in many eastern regions are more than 30 times higher than in Moscow, with the capital and St Petersburg “relatively unscathed”, while in other places ethnic minorities bear the brunt of the war in the Kremlin.

“Isolating the affluent and more influential elements of Russian society” is probably a “most important consideration,” the ministry said, adding that none of the officials in the front two rows of the audience at the State of the Union address Putin on February 21 is known to have children in the military.

Russian casualties are believed to have risen by tens of thousands as fighting has centered around Bakhmut in recent months, becoming one of the bloodiest battlefields of the entire war as Moscow looks to punch a hole in Ukraine’s defenses in a move to the conquest of the entire Donbas region.

Moscow’s intensified attack on the city was finally making progress, but their assault will be difficult to sustain without even greater casualties, British military officials said.

Wagner Group units have taken most of eastern Bachmut, with a river running through the town now marking the front line, according to British intelligence, with Wagner’s leader Mr Prigozhin claiming his mercenaries are less than a mile from the city’s administrative center.

Ukrainian soldiers on a BMP-2 tank drive towards the city of Bakhmut on Saturday (AFP/Getty)

Ukrainian troops and supply lines remain vulnerable to continued Russian attempts to encircle them from the north and south as Wagner mercenaries try to approach them in a pincer movement, British officials said.

But it will be “very challenging” for Wagner’s soldiers to push through, as Ukraine has destroyed key bridges across the river, while Ukrainian sniper fire from fortified buildings further west has damaged the thin strip of open terrain in the center of the city. a killing zone”. .

Meanwhile, Russian military bloggers claimed that Moscow’s troops had entered a heavily built-up and fortified metal processing plant in the northwest of the city, on which the US-based Institute for the Study – as opposed to a “wider encirclement of western Bakhmut” – had moved. concentrated. or War assessed could lead to a new wave of Russian casualties.

While the Russian defense ministry said up to 210 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the wider Donetsk section of the frontline, Kiev’s ground forces signaled they wanted to hold their ground in Bakhmut. They claimed that their top officer, Colonel Oleksandr Syrskyi, personally supervised “the sectors of the front” to deny Moscow a victory.

“It is necessary to buy time to build up reserves and launch a counter-offensive, which is not far off,” the army quoted Syrskyi as saying.

Additional reporting by agencies

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