Battle of Bagmuth. Ukrainian soldiers talk about being “sent to their deaths”.

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Russia’s war with Ukraine. Day 385

“When they take us to Pakmut, I already know that I am being sent to my death,” Volodymyr, 54, of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, told the Kyiv Independent portal.

The meeting with journalists took place in Kramatorsk, about 25 kilometers from the front line.

For two months, Volodymyr’s division was tasked with defending Pakmut from small Russian raiding parties sneaking into the city. The platoon continued to engage in mortar fire.

“(The Russians) keep shooting at us, but we don’t have artillery, so we don’t have anything to repel them,” he said. – I don’t know if I will come back or not. We are being killed,” he added.

The Ukrainian infantry described the fighting in Bakhmut as a desperate survival challenge against Russia’s “limitless” supply of artillery ammunition and manpower. With only machine guns at their disposal, they say they faced relentless Russian mortar and artillery fire.

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Volodymyr is haunted by thoughts of his comrades killed at Bakmut. He recalled a 29-year-old man who was found dead after being hit by shrapnel in the head. “I knew he was dead, but I was wrapping his head (in bandages),” she said.

The Russians have almost surrounded Bagmut, and Ukraine is defending the city at all costs. A withdrawal would give the Kremlin its first major victory since July 2022. Taking the ruined city became a symbolic and political goal for the Russians.

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According to Sergeant Mykola of the 28th Mechanized Brigade, on the Pakmuk front, Russian forces outnumbered Ukrainian forces by two or three times. “If Russia keeps up the current pace of attacks, it could take a few weeks, that’s all,” he said of the Battle of Bagmuth. – The situation is now very difficult, because they have already tasted (successes in Bakmut). They know there isn’t much left.

Ukraine’s military command said that a complete withdrawal from Pakmut was being considered and such a decision would be taken only if necessary.

Another soldier, Valery, said that the Russian artillery was doing more damage. – They always shoot at us. “Sometimes you hear one (missile) coming every second,” he said.

Władysław, of the 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Regiment, says that many soldiers from his unit refused to go to Bakmut when the Russians approached.

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Ukrainian soldiers in Bagmud region

Many soldiers from other regiments said they faced so many “refusals” that they did everything they could to avoid being sent to Bagmuth.

During the last cycle at the end of February, only eight of the 25 players of Władysław’s team left for Pakmuth. The rest explained that they could not go due to fever or body aches.

The eight men went to a place at the crossing of the Bachmutka river, where there were destroyed houses. Upon their arrival, they came under heavy fire from Russian mortars. – Two were killed and two were seriously wounded – one soldier lost an arm, the other was hit by a bullet in the stomach – said Władysław. Others, including him, suffered severe concussions. All of them were expelled from Bakhtmut that day and lost their posts.

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Russian tactics were to find Ukrainian positions, mass artillery attacks to kill as many soldiers as possible, then advance with infantry, usually suffering heavy casualties.

Some soldiers stationed in Pakmut said the Russians would break into small attack groups of about ten men and carry out suicide attacks. According to them, they may have been mercenaries from Wagner’s group, but it is difficult to judge since they all wore similar uniforms.

While Russia’s capture of Pakmut is highly likely, the Institute for War Studies predicts that “the Russians lack the ability to use a tactical capture of the city to operational effect.”

According to analysts, the Russian offensive will end “abruptly” after capturing the city.

The Russian focus on Bagmuth was associated with weakening attacks on other sections of the front. Ukrainian soldiers say it allows less-experienced members of the military to conduct additional training and lay mines in the direction of potential attacks.

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