EDF: Ukrainian forces likely to leave Bakhmut soon

Col. Margo Grosberg.
Col. Margo Grosberg. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Chief of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) intelligence center Col. Margo Grosberg, said that the defense of Bakhmut has given the Ukrainian armed forces enough time to build defensive infrastructure elsewhere, and the Ukrainians can be expected to retreat there soon.

Grosberg, who spoke at a weekly Ministry of Defense briefing on the security situation, said that Bakhmut is still in the hands of Ukrainian forces, but the roads into the city have been cut off from the north, east, and south, and the only road leading out of the city is in the west.

Grosberg added that Bakhmut has been a major target for the Russian armed forces.

"Because the Ukrainian armed forces controlled the city, they were able to build additional defensive lines to protect neighboring areas such as Kramatorsk and Slovyansk and, because of their geographical location, the Ukrainians clearly have an advantage in the ensuing lines of defense," Grosberg said.

"As a result, a Ukrainian withdrawal from Bakhmut could occur within the next few weeks, if not days. It all depends on how well they have fortified their defenses, but at some point it will no longer be rational to waste resources on defending the city," Grosberg added.

Grosberg said that the surrender of Bakhmut to the Russian Federation will not result in a strategic shift on the battlefield, but it will provide the Russians with a sense of victory they need for their psychological and information warfare operations.

"The Russian Federation's armed forces clearly prioritize success in any type of offensive operation," Grosberg said.

He added that the Russians may be further stressed by the expected arrival of new armament on Ukraine's side, suggesting that local strikes may intensify in the coming weeks.

The Russian Federation, Grosberg said, is also strengthening its defenses.

"Especially in the direction they fear the most, from Zaporizhia oblast to Melitopol."

Grosberg also said that the first contingent of mobilized troops had completed their training in Belarus and were now being dispatched to the Ukrainian border, while a new contingent is being rotated in for training.

Although the much-anticipated second mobilization wave has not begun, the first mobilization wave has not yet ended, he said.

"On a much smaller scale and under the radar, mobilization has been still ongoing with people being called up and training taking place."

"If the current manpower balance on the front is roughly one-to-one, then a successful offensive operation should be three-to-one," Grosberg said, implying that mobilization could last until the summer. 


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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