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Two Russian Commanders Killed in Bakhmut as Ukraine Intensifies Counteroffensive

By Vusala Abbasova May 16, 2023

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The announcement coincided with the ongoing battles for control of Bakhmut, the focal point of the long-standing conflict in eastern Ukraine. / AP

Tensions have escalated around the devastated city of Bakhmut, resulting in heightened levels of death and devastation in the protracted battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

In the ongoing conflict over Bakhmut, two Russian military commanders have lost their lives, as confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday, while Ukrainian forces intensify their counteroffensive against Russian military.

According to the daily briefing from the ministry, Commander Vyacheslav Makarov and Deputy Commander Yevgeny Brovko were killed while fighting against Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut. Makarov hailed from the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade, whereas Brovko served in a separate unit.

Igor Konashenkov, the defense ministry spokesperson, stated that Commander Vyacheslav Makarov, who perished in Bakhmut, had been at the forefront of the battle. His fellow commander, Yevgeny Brovko, “heroically died, succumbing to multiple shrapnel wounds.”

This announcement coincided with the ongoing battles for control of Bakhmut, the focal point of the long-standing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Despite months of grueling warfare that has taken a heavy toll on both sides, neither has managed to establish complete control over the city.

According to The Kyiv Independent, Russian forces seized approximately 90 percent of Bakhmut’s urban territory. Nevertheless, Ukrainian military units retain control over a sector encompassing several high-rise apartment buildings located in the western part of the city.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar disclosed that Ukrainian forces had captured over ten Russian-held positions within a day on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut. She also added that a significant area in a forest near Ivanivske, a village southwest of Bakhmut, had been liberated.

While Ukraine’s military hailed recent advances around Bakhmut as their first successful counterattack against Russian forces vying for control of the city, the situation in Bakhmut remains challenging. Kyiv cautioned that Moscow has not altered its objective of capturing the city and is deploying assault troops to the outskirts of Bakhmut.

“The Russians have not changed their goals,” Maliar wrote on Telegram. “They are sending assault troops to the outskirts of Bakhmut.”

On Friday, Moscow acknowledged that its forces had withdrawn north of Bakhmut in anticipation of a counter-offensive by Ukraine, which has been striving to regain control of territory lost since the onset of the conflict.

According to a Telegram post by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary force that has played a pivotal role in Russia’s advance on Bakhmut, his troops made significant gains on Saturday. Prigozhin claimed that his men had advanced as far as 550 meters (1,800 feet) in certain directions and suggested that Ukrainian forces held less than 1.78 sq km (0.7 sq miles) in the city center.

Moscow has considered Bakhmut a crucial target since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly 15 months ago. Russian leaders perceive the city as a strategic gateway for launching attacks on other key Ukrainian cities. Meanwhile, Kyiv has consistently emphasized the importance of defending Bakhmut, asserting that doing so is vital for the military's preparation for an anticipated counteroffensive.