As always, please check the pinned comment for any notes or corrections.
For months now, a city with a pre-war population of 70,000 has been the focus of relentless artillery and infantry attacks by the Russian military and the “Wagner PMC.”
For many commentators, the attacks seem nonsensical. At a time when Russia is pivoting to defence just about everywhere else along the line, why keep pouring men and materiel into a city that simply doesn’t have value relative to the effort expended trying to take it.
In this video I zoom in on the battle for Bakhmut, and explore its history, implications, and some of what we have heard about the tactics there.
At the same time, we also look at Russia’s campaign of fortification building across much of the rest of Ukraine (and Russia). As the world focuses on Russia’s Bakhmut attacks, Russia is throwing up belts of defences that…for now at least…seem to have some of the hallmarks of typical Russian defence procurement.
Many thanks to the people who provided input into this episode, with a special thanks to Sgt. Kates – USMC, for giving the kind of input only a combat engineer can (I do not have any idea how to clear a minefield)
As always, this video represents merely person views based on imperfect information gathered during an active war.
While I have attempted to discuss the factors I consider when evaluating casualty claims – the reality is that the error bars around any estimates are still extremely wide. Estimates of 1:10 ratios in some sectors at certain times are paired with claims consistent with very different situations elsewhere.
Even that Ukrainian Govt estimate on Russian losses may be low – simply because of when the estimate was made and the limited territory it may have covered. This is the problem of uncertainty when viewing a war from afar.
While I am confident in the analysis of matters at the overarching strategic level – be aware that the smaller you get in this war, the less certain things often become.
Notes and further reading:
Thanks as always to various OSINT aggregation channels whose work is critical to analysis like this. A non exhaustive list includes:
I do not generally link directly to Russian Telegram channels – but they provide an important source of information on how views of the war are evolving on that side.
“Arty Green” – Ukrainian artillery officer:
Examples of constant media coverage:
00:00:00 — Opening Words
00:01:40 — What Am I Talking About
00:02:37 — DIGGING TO VICTORY
00:02:43 — Fortification and Entrenchment
00:03:59 — Search for Movement
00:04:47 — Always a Risk of Reversion
00:05:17 — THE UKRAINIAN EXPERIENCE
00:05:22 — The War in The Donbass
00:06:12 — War of Movement
00:07:07 — Transfer of the Initiative
00:08:16 — Russia Digs In
00:08:38 — Even in Russia…
00:09:52 — There’s Bakhmut
00:10:49 — TIMELINE
00:10:58 — Core Objective
00:11:36 — “Protecting the Donbass”
00:12:42 — The Donbass Offensive
00:14:06 — It Isn’t Just Bakhmut
00:15:16 — Wagner’s Verdun
00:17:05 — A Brutal Back and Forth
00:17:14 — Encirclement Plan & Ukrainian Rotation
00:18:57 — FEATURES AND EVOLUTION
00:19:08 — Entrenchment
00:20:03 — Traditional Model
00:21:04 — Wagner Waves
00:21:42 — Wagner Tactics
00:24:47 — War by the Meter
00:25:42 — The Gas Station
00:26:13 — The Garbage Dump
00:26:55 — War Made Small
00:27:46 — Infiltration Assaults
00:28:47 — Myths
00:31:18 — WHY BAKHMUT?
00:31:31 — Road to Sloviansk
00:32:47 — “Smashing Their Foreheads”
00:33:22 — So Why?
00:34:34 — IS IT WORTH IT?
00:34:38 — We’re Talking About It
00:35:19 — A1: Offensive Potential
00:36:05 — A2: Attrition
00:37:10 — A3: Politics
00:37:52 — Opportunity Cost
00:38:39 — Other Options?
00:39:04 — Real Cost of Bakhmut
00:40:46 — What if Bakhmut is Taken?
00:42:04 — ASSESSING THE COST
00:42:23 — Illustrating the Point: Causality Scale
00:44:35 — Medium-high Confidence Inputs
00:45:33 — Consistency and Assumptions
00:46:18 — The Picture
00:49:45 — FEATURES AND OBSERVATIONS
00:50:05 — Wat Defaulting to Attrition
00:51:12 — Drone & Artillery Warfare
00:52:45 — “Mines are the Worst”
00:54:53 — Challenges of Breaching
00:55:53 — Sidenotes on Options…
00:56:33 — “Wagner Line”
00:57:25 — The Ugly
00:58:36 — The Significant
00:59:25 — CONCLUSIONS
01:00:47 — CHANNEL UPDATE
01:00:47 — CHANNEL UPDATE