Russian troops facing 'slaughter-fest' in Bakhmut as Putin's forces 'hammered' by Ukraine

Russian soldiers and mercenary fighters are falling victim to a “slaughter-fest” in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a senior US official has claimed, as Putin’s hopes of securing the region appear to be coming to an unsuccessful end. After months of brutal fighting and WW1-style “human wave attacks”, the Russian advance on Bakhmut looks to have failed despite their attempted encircling of the city appearing imminent just a few weeks ago. US joint chief of staff General Mark Milley said Putin’s soldiers had been “hammered” in the city and that “Ukrainians had fought very very well”.

Asked at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on March 29 about Russia’s attempts to capture Bakhmut, General Milley said Putin’s soldiers had suffered a colossal demise.

The US official said: “It’s a slaughter-fest for the Russians. They’re getting hammered in the vicinity of Bakhmut and the Ukrainians have fought very very well.

“The Ukrainians are doing a very effective area defence that is proving to be very costly to the Russians.”

Western analysts and officials have suggested Russia has lost between 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers in Bakhmut, a figure that equates to roughly a third to a half of the total estimated deaths of their Armed Forces in the past 13 months across Ukraine.

But on Tuesday, the MoD said that those Russian forces had “likely been pushed back” now and that their efforts to continue advancing were operating at a “reduced level”, owing in part to “personnel shortages”.

The human cost of the Russian advances on Bakhmut look devastating, with western analysts suggesting the past few months of fighting have cost Putin seven soldiers for just one Ukrainian fighter.

This is, in large part, due to the “human wave attacks” employed by the Wagner Group, many of whose fighters are ex-prisoners regarded as “cannon fodder”. The tactic involved a first wave of roughly a dozen fighters climbing out of their trenches into No Man’s Land and charging at Ukrainian positions.

One source with alleged ties to the Wagner Group said these men were used to soak up Ukrainian artillery, adding that the second and third waves often had to climb over their dead comrades to make further advances.

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Ukrainian military officials, however, have been less dismissive of the Russian threat to Bakhmut in recent updates.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said earlier this week that Russian forces “had had a degree of success in their actions aimed at storming the city of Bakhmut”.

The Institute for the Study of War, the seminal US-based military analyst team that has tracked frontline progressions throughout the invasion of Ukraine, said in its latest update on Wednesday night that Russian forces looked to have “advanced in southern and southwestern Bakhmut”, according to geolocated footage.

Recent reports have suggested fighting in the nearby town of Avdiivka, 43 miles to the southwest, has also intensified.