A Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut A Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut 

Clashes devastate Ukrainian city and its people

Heavy fighting has been reported around the devastated eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. The trench-for-tranch battle is taking its toll on the local population.

By Stefan J. Bos

A wounded man is in shock. Soldiers provide first aid. He has lost one hand and has a badly injured leg. He explains how he ran to see the neighbor in his garage after an explosion. But then there was another blast, and he got hurt. Soldiers help him to reach a hospital, a complicated undertaking in this region.

This is daily life in battle-scarred Bakhmut, a city once famed for its sparkling wines.

Now Moscow's soldiers are trying to capture this eastern city ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion and the expected arrival of more western weapons for Ukrainian troops.

A fortress?

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has called Bakhmut "our fortress." Russian forces have spent the past six months trying to take control of the city.  

But patience is running out. Now Moscow seeks an intensified onslaught, leading to even more suffering of civilians and soldiers.

Bakhmut's strategic value to Russia is disputed. But analysts say that Moscow sees its capture as a way of cutting Ukrainian supply lines in the east.

It is also a gateway toward the nearby larger cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Russia's defense ministry said its forces also carried out a "massive strike" on critically essential energy facilities of Ukraine's military-industrial complex.

Yet winning the war is more challenging than Russia expected. Even Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia's infamous Wagner mercenary group, has now said it could take two years for Russia to control eastern Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions fully.

Moscow once stated that capturing and keeping those two regions was a critical goal of this devastating war, which has already killed thousands of people and displaced millions.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

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13 February 2023, 16:56