The Russian military occupied the entire eastern part of Bakhmut on the right bank of the Bakhmutka River. This is reported by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and other independent experts. This was also stated by the founder of PMC Wagner Evgeny Prigozhin. A voice message was published on the Telegram channel of his press service, in which Prigozhin says that the Wagner PMCs occupied "everything east of the Bakhmutka River."
On March 7 , Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the hypothetical capture of Bakhmut by the Russian military would open the way for them to Kramatorsk, Slovyansk and other important settlements in the Donetsk region. However, ISW believes that even if Russia manages to carry out the capture, it will not be able to use it to develop operational success. It is likely that the Russian military will try to move either west along the T0504 highway towards Konstantinovka, or northwest along the E40 highway towards the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk region. Russia will have to choose only one of the roads, as its forces are depleted, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are defending both directions. Also, ISW believes that Russia may experience a shortage of mechanized forces necessary for an offensive in Bakhmut. Tactical "assault troops" most likely cannot wage a mobile war.
The war criminal Igor Girkin (Strelkov, Runov) is of the same opinion. Despite supporting Russia in the war against Ukraine, he regularly criticizes the Russian command:
Without denying the courage and heroism of the Wagner fighters and commanders, as well as the interacting units of the RF Armed Forces, I will only note that the results of more than two months of brutal meat grinder in the form of taking half of the city blocks of a small city testify to anything, but not about the military talents of both these characters [Shoigu and Prigogine]. And, unfortunately, I express confidence that after the final capture of the city, the offensive will come to naught in front of the next fortified areas of the enemy, built during the time that Bakhmut and Soledar were storming. I have to state that the winter offensive of the RF Armed Forces was limited to frontal strikes against heavily fortified positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, in general, ended in failure, which is in no way compensated by the insignificant tactical successes of our troops and the heavy losses of the enemy.
The Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut still have several roads that can still be used. Twitter user truecope geolocated them and marked them on the map. However, as Conflict Intelligence Team analysts emphasize , many of them are unpaved. In the coming days, warm and rainy weather is expected in the Bakhmut area, which means that more and more equipment will get stuck in the mud.
The Telegram channel “Rybar”, connected with the Russian Ministry of Defense, writes about the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Bakhmut. According to him, the Ukrainian side is preparing a second line of defense Slavyansk-Kramatorsk-Konstantinovka-Toretsk. “Rybar” claims that at least 12 brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as troop fighters, are now stationed there and in Seversk. The Insider spoke with Ukrainian military expert Roman Svitan about the possibility of a counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
From under Belogorovka, which is east of Soledar, there is a promising direction for a counteroffensive, just in time for offensive operations. From there, one and a half to two dozen kilometers to Popasnaya, and the exit to Popasnaya will cut off the Soledar grouping of Russian troops and transfer the one near Soledar and Bakhmut into an operational encirclement. Two or three mechanized brigades will be enough to get out, and then the entire Bakhmut and Soledar group will be cleared. Such a possibility exists from the point of view of military science, it depends on the forces and means of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and on decision-making. So if this decision is made, then it will be possible to forget about Wagner PMCs, because they will not come out of this boiler. Now the rains have begun, and therefore, for the time being, it is advantageous to stay in the Bakhmut area, and not launch a counteroffensive. But as soon as it is a little drier, at least for a few days, the APU will move advantageously.
Representatives of NATO also spoke about the situation in Bakhmut on March 8. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he does not rule out the capture of the city by Russia in the coming days:
What Russia lacks in quality is trying to make up for in quantity. The Russian military suffered heavy losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days. Therefore, it is also important to emphasize that this does not mean that the war has necessarily reached a turning point. It just emphasizes that we should not underestimate Russia.
Russian aviation losses
General James Hecker, commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, said that during the full-scale war, the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed more than 70 Russian aircraft. Ukraine itself, he said, has lost less than sixty. Hecker attributes these relatively low losses to the effectiveness of integrated air and missile defenses on both sides. The general claims that this made a significant part of the aviation "useless".
However, aviation is still used in war. For example, the Russian military in the sky over the Luhansk region. On March 8, they prepared a gift for women and drew a figure eight in the air, the Military Observer Z-channel reports .
Tankensteins in the ranks of the RF Armed Forces
The Russian military is receiving homemade armored vehicles, writes Telegraph. This is probably how Russia is trying to compensate for its colossal tank losses. The British Ministry of Defense claims that even the elite Russian armored divisions are now equipped with 60-year-old T-62 tanks. There were also reports of the transfer to Ukraine of BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, first put into service in 1954.
The Kyiv Post calls homemade Russian armored vehicles “Frankensteins”, the Telegraph calls them “tankensteins”. They were seen in several photos and videos from the front that appeared in early March. The top of the "tankensteins" consists of 2M-3M ship anti-aircraft guns, the base is MT-LB armored personnel carriers. British military analyst Hamish de Bretton-Gordon stressed that Russia followed the path of al-Qaeda and ISIS, which created and used similar machines in the Middle East.
The US military is exploring the possibility of installing Western medium-range air-to-air missiles AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) on Ukrainian MiG-29 fighters. This is reported by Politico, citing sources in the Pentagon. If the US can make progress in this effort, it will be the first time it has given Ukrainian aviation the ability to launch air-to-air missiles.
The German authorities said they sent Ukraine two Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, as well as about 6,000 shells for them, two border guard vehicles, and six mobile antenna-mast systems. Germany also announced the delivery of thirteen Biber bridge layers.
The Ukrainian company AeroDrone has begun mass production of two models of drones: the D-80 Discovery with a payload of 80 kg and the E-300 Enterprise, capable of carrying 300 kg. They can cover distances from Kyiv to any point in the European part of Russia. The basic autonomous flight range of drones is more than 1000 km, but upgraded versions will be able to fly three times as much.
Russia, in turn, continues to support Iran. According to SkyNews, he secretly supplies Russia with ammunition, rockets and mortar shells by sea. The source of the publication claims that in January two ships under the Russian flag left the Iranian port - Musa Jalil and Begey. They allegedly sent 200 containers to Russia containing 100 million rounds of ammunition and 300,000 shells.
Read about what happened at the front on March 7 in The Insider report “Prigozhin argues with Shoigu about Bakhmut, mobilized refuse to fight, Lukashenka called Zelensky a 'nit'. What's going on at the front.