Battle of Bakhmut reveals inconclusive war - GulfToday

Battle of Bakhmut reveals inconclusive war

Ukraine war

The battle of Bakhmut is a reenactment of the Kharkiv situation, but this is a fiercer battle.

When Russian President Vladimir ordered the invasion of Ukraine, he described it as a special military operation to replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in Kyiv, a regime change. But it soon became clear that the Ukrainians were only too determined to fight. It has of course been possible because the United States, the NATO, the European Union (EU) countries, the G7 industrial democracies threw their weight behind the government of Zelensky.

The West imposed crippling economic sanctions against Russia, though the measures did not really cripple the Russian war machine. But Russia failed to overpower Ukraine, and Ukraine has not been able to drive back the Russian forces which have entered Ukraine.

The stalemate has been enacted at several places in this war. First, the Russians marched towards Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and it seemed that Ukraine was about to collapse. It did not happen. The long column of Russian armoured cars and tanks were struck in a single file, unable to move forward or take a U-turn as the weather turned inclement and the Russian troops were stuck in snow and slush and sledge.

When the Russians changed their tactics and focused on the eastern front in Ukraine where they had an advantage, Kharkiv fell but the Russians could not retain it as the Ukrainian forces kept their attack, and the Russian troops made a disastrous retreat because their supply lines were cut off by the Ukrainians.

The battle of Bakhmut is a reenactment of the Kharkiv situation, but this is a fiercer battle. There was a point when the Russian private army of Wagner declared that they cannot hold Kharkiv because they have no ammunition, and the situation changed. The Wagner militia held on. Now the Russians claim that they have taken over the city.

President Zelensky indirectly admitted that Bakhmut remains in the hearts of the Ukrainians, but the Ukrainian forces are fighting around the city and the Russians are not fully in control. Now the Russians claim that the Wagner forces will leave Bakhmut, and the Russian government will take over the administration of Bakhmut and integrate it with Russia. The Ukrainians say that the fighting is on and the battle for Bakhmut is not over.

The Ukrainians are fighting hard and with the reinforcement of armaments from the West, the Ukrainian mar machine is prepared for a long war, and the Russians seem to be aware of it. It is not yet clear as to why the Russians are unable to force a decision in the war with their overwhelming military superiority.

It seems that Russian leader Putin faces enough internal challenges, though there is no news from Moscow as to the sentiment over the war among ordinary Russians. The fact that Russia is forced to fall back on a private army like that of Wagner shows that the public support for the war effort is not total in Russia.

At one point, Putin claimed that reservists would not be called in, but he had to call in the reservists. Russia is still able to sell its gas and oil to China, India, and indirectly to EU countries which are buying Russian crude refined in India, and the EU trade regulations seem to say that a modified product in a third country cannot be said to be from the country of origin. Somewhere, the Western countries despite their anti-Russian and pro-Ukraine rhetoric, have kept enough doors open between Russia and the West for goods to pass through the sluices as it were.

So, will the war end? Will Russia and Ukraine feel the need to come to the negotiating table? With the military aid keeping the Ukrainian war machine fit for fighting, and the Russians able to keep their side of the fighting going, no one can say that a single battle like that of Bakhmut will decide the fate of the war.

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