Here are some big picture maps showing the current position of Russian and Ukrainian forces in and around Bakhmut. As you can see the Russians (ie, the Wagner Group) are making rapid progress after months of slow progress and are on the verge of a tactical encirclement of Ukrainian units.
It is important to understand the terrain of the Bakhmut region. The photos below show a landscape reminiscent of the state I grew up in – Missouri. Small cities are surrounded by rolling hills, farmland and light forest. The first photo is looking north and shows the positions of Russian and Ukrainian forces in the area. Tanks do not move easily in this area. This is why artillery is the preferred weapon for displacing dug-in units on ridges and along roads.
By this time the situation was so desperate for the Ukrainian forces that they were being forced out of their fortified entrenchments and taking refuge in makeshift foxholes and tree lines.
Here’s today’s update detailing the developing situation:
There are reports of Wagner approaching Bogdanovka (west of Bakhmut), increasing the threat of an encirclement.
The 2nd map shows the approximate number of Ukrainian units in the same area.
Those in the yellow zone will be able to withdraw (unless they decide otherwise).
Those in the red circle are in a difficult position.
General Slursky is said to have arrived in Bakhmut to oversee the withdrawal of more combat-ready units, holding the territorial defense units in the rear.
After months of predictions that Ukraine would retreat from Bakhmut, that moment seems nigh. One of the most important unanswered questions is how many Ukrainian soldiers will be captured and how many will escape. Regardless, it marks another phase of demilitarization and destruction by Russia in its Ukrainian campaign. Ukraine’s further line of defense to the west is problematic because it sits on low ground and is more vulnerable to Russian artillery.
A setback in Bakhmut in normal times will force the US and NATO to reassess the wisdom of its continued support for Ukraine and seek an escape route. But these are not ordinary times. NATO staff are likely to become more frenzied and redouble their support for Ukraine as it seeks to accelerate the delivery of long-range missiles that further antagonize Russia. In short, the war continues.