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Ukraine's Bakhmut under siege: city displays resilience amid assault

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 13, 2023

The eastern city of Bakhmut in Ukraine has become a battleground marked by resilience and tenacity in the face of relentless assault. The conflict, which has been ongoing for over a year, presents a potential turning point in the larger fight against Russian aggression.

The details of the siege, including hand-to-hand combat, phosphorus bombings, and waves of Russian convicts, have engaged the city, as reported by the Daily Times.

Observers in the city have experienced the stark transformation of the city center into a war zone. Amid the thunderous cacophony of plummeting shells and the devastation they inflict, the once lively heart of Bakhmut now bears the scars of relentless conflict. The intensity of the battle brings to mind the infamous siege of Stalingrad, underlining the gravity of the situation.

Despite the lack of strategic value, Russian forces under President Vladimir Putin have been attempting to take control of Bakhmut since last year, leading to the death of tens of thousands. This relentless assault is part of Putin's promise to "liberate" the entire Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Resilience and Concerns in Bakhmut

Many in Bakhmut express a strong desire for Ukrainian freedom, a sentiment that continues despite the ongoing conflict. Amidst the horror, there's a palpable yearning for peace and a resolve to resist.

Recently, footage emerged, painting a horrifying image of the city blanketed in white phosphorus - a substance that ignites on contact with air and burns through almost everything. This raises international concerns as the Russians have signed the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which prohibits the use of incendiary weapons in civilian areas.

From Wine to Warfare

Once known for its sparkling wine, Bakhmut now witnesses Russian ordnance while its people hide in cellars and soldiers take cover in underground bunkers. Russian victories have been rare since the all-out invasion of Ukraine, causing them to pour even more resources into the assault on Bakhmut.

However, while acknowledging the potential loss of the city, the Ukrainian forces are determined to resist, thereby buying time and creating opportunities for counter-offensives elsewhere. Reports suggest a significant Ukrainian advance, marking the biggest territorial gain in months. The fight has now moved to the streets, with daily casualties on both sides.

A Brutal Standoff

The battle for Bakhmut has been compared to World War I, with intense infantry combat and brutal hand-to-hand engagements. Once bustling with life, the city is now an echo of its past self, riddled with craters and trenches.

Nearly anything can be weaponized in this desperate situation, including bottles of vodka turned into Molotov cocktails or 'Ukrainian smoothies' as they are grimly referred to.

The Russian private mercenary company, the Wagner Group, has become integral to the Russian strategy. Led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group recruits from Russia's worst prisons, sending convicts to fight in return for a possible pardon, France 24 reported.

Impending Atrocities

Prigozhin has been known to show utter disregard for the lives of his men, often sending them into battle drugged and unprepared. These mass attacks, referred to as "meat waves," are anticipated and managed by Ukrainian forces, but they also signify a horrifying escalation of violence.

Recently, Prigozhin released a video threatening to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut due to the alleged withholding of payment by the Russian government, the Guardian reported. However, many experts have viewed this skeptically and suspect it might be a ploy to lower the Ukrainian guard.

The situation in Bakhmut becomes more dire with each passing day. However, the Ukrainian forces remain committed to their cause, vowing to fight to the bitter end.

International Response

Meanwhile, the international community continues to condemn the use of phosphorus weapons and the presence of private mercenary companies in Ukraine. The United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire and for Russia to honor its commitments under international law.

Yet these calls seem to fall on deaf ears as Putin's war machine continues its relentless onslaught. As the world watches, Bakhmut has come to symbolize the ongoing conflict and the determination of Ukrainian forces.

A Hope for Peace

For the people of Bakhmut, the hope for peace seems distant. Yet their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity resonate throughout Ukraine and beyond.

In the heart of the conflict, amidst the rubble and the ruins, the spirit of resistance continues to echo, a reminder that the struggle is far from over. Bakhmut, a city now synonymous with resistance, stands as a testament to the resilience of its people in the face of overwhelming odds.

This fight is not just about a single city; it's a struggle for the future of Ukraine and, by extension, a struggle for freedom and democracy everywhere. Despite the pain and the losses, the people of Ukraine continue their fight, refusing to let the spirit of resistance be extinguished.