There are some places in Ukraine that just never seem to get a break, and for over a year, Bakhmut has been at the top of the list. There were months during which Russia gradually surrounded the city, capturing locations like Soledar to the north and Opytne to the south. There were more months in which Wagner Group forces sent one human wave after another to crash against defenses on the city’s east side, turning every address along Patrisa Lumumby Street into a landmark of destruction. Finally, there came the slow, block-by-block withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut, with Russian artillery leveling the city in an effort to leave no position capable of defense.
As Wagner forces moved through Bakhmut, there were a series of absolutely desperate weeks in which Ukraine seemed barely able to reach its forces remaining inside the city. Russia moved through Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka, cutting off the city from the north. Wagner forces crossed the T0513 highway on the south, then reached Klishchiivka, pushed through the high ground west of the town, and made the T0504 highway on the southwest impassable.
The last paved road into Bakhmut, from Chasiv Yar through Khromove, was briefly known as the “highway of life”—the sole means of getting supplies into Bakhmut and bringing both wounded and refugees out. Then, in the space of days, that same route became the “highway of death,” littered by burned-out hulks of vehicles struck by a rain of Russian artillery from captured Berkhivka and Yahidne.
As the city fell, it seemed like Bakhmut was about to become another city in the backfield of Russia’s slow advance, like Severodonetsk to the north. At Daily Kos, we were already writing about Ukraine’s next defensive position along the roads to Russia’s big targets at Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. But that’s not the way it happened.
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