On May 5, the Wagner Group, which had been responsible for a frontal assault on the small Ukhmut town of Bakhmut for ten months, announced that it had begun withdrawing from Bakhmut, handing over the city's stronghold to troops from the Russian Defense Ministry. Although Ukraine claims to control several buildings southwest of Bakhmut, Bakhmut has undoubtedly fallen into Russian hands, or President Vladimir Putin himself would not have publicly announced the results a week ago.
The Russian army was powerless to push
The fall of Bakhmut was Russia's most significant victory since last summer and autumn. However, the Russian army paid extremely heavily for this. Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on the 23rd that his corps' battle in Bakhmut resulted in the death of <>,<> soldiers, half of whom were full-time professional mercenaries and the other half were personnel summoned from Russian prisons. And this is not counting the regular Russian army and other mercenaries who also fought in Bakhmut.
By comparison, Bakhmut's pre-war population was only 70,000. After October shelling, the city, represented by salt mines and sparkling wine, has now been reduced to empty ruins.
Personally in Bakhmut announced the withdrawal of Wagner troops Prigozhin. （Reuters）
Judging from the development of the entire city of Bakhmut in the roughly one week after it fell into the hands of the Russian army, the strategic importance of the city is indeed limited. The Russians were unable to advance further. The two flanks to the south and north that were originally intended to be used to entrap the Bakhmut Ukrainian army were even broken by the Ukrainian army, and the latter occupied the commanding heights outside the city. Such a situation may turn the Russian army, which has just captured Bakhmut, into a defender to deal with the Ukrainian offensive.
This can only be regarded as a crushing victory, and once again proves that Russia is not capable of further victories on the Ukrainian battlefield - unless the Russian army prolongs the conflict to decades later, as Dmitri Medvedev said on the 25th.
Although the Russian army does not have much offensive capability, does Ukraine have enough counteroffensive capabilities to quickly repel the Russian army?
The Ukrainian army's blitzkrieg counteroffensive is hopeless
For the past two months, the outside world has been waiting for Ukraine's long-prepared spring counteroffensive. Ukraine has prepared more than a dozen brigades and nearly 1,<> troops, most of which are also equipped with land propulsion weapons from Europe and the United States since January this year, including main battle tanks, and many of them have also been trained in different Western countries.
Russia has also made sufficient preparations to deal with Ukraine's counteroffensive, and has already built trenches, anti-tank dragon tooth arrays, mines and other fortifications on the entire Russian-Ukrainian front. Many analysts believe that even if the United States relies on its army alone to attack this line of defense, it will not be an easy task; For the Ukrainian counteroffensive army, which has little experience in the battlefield and has just completed training, it is difficult to directly impact the Russian defense line and quickly achieve results, and it is necessary to have a high degree of joint arms combat capability (note: this is what the Russian army has never shown), and to cooperate with a surprising surprise attack. Some even believe that the Ukrainian counteroffensive can determine the victory within 24 hours of the beginning, and that failure is successful.
The outside world originally estimated that stepping into May, the muddy season will pass, and the Ukrainian army will launch a counteroffensive. But now, as May draws to a close, the major counteroffensive is still missing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will have to wait a little longer, as if to make a degree of expectation management for the outside world.
By May 5, Zelensky's adviser Mykhailo Podolyak had a new definition of Ukraine's spring counteroffensive: a counteroffensive was not a single event, but dozens of different actions in different directions, and even intensive destruction of enemy logistics was considered a counteroffensive. He added that this counteroffensive "was carried out yesterday, is going on today, and will continue tomorrow."
According to this new definition, Ukraine's spring counteroffensive has quietly begun, but it is not the rapid advance expected by the outside world as blitzkrieg.
Frankly speaking, this kind of expectation management and redefinition of the spring counteroffensive actually shows that the Ukrainian side also knows that it and the Russian army are only "half a pound and eight taels", and do not have the certainty of turning the situation around by force on the battlefield, and for the time being, at most, they can only make probing actions in different directions such as drone provocations to the Kremlin, cross-border small-scale raids, or dispatching unmanned attack ships to attack Black Sea targets (the following clip).
"Harmony" wind is rising
Since the war cannot end on the battlefield, the time for negotiations may come. Countries around the world seem to have seen this opportunity and have recently taken action to promote peace. On the Chinese side, there is the visit of Li Hui, special representative of Eurasia, to five countries of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia; At the G7 summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said after meeting with Zelensky that he would make every effort to find a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian war; Although Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has not met with Zelensky, he has been promoting the transnational "Peace Initiative" initiative to promote peace with Russia and Ukraine; The leaders of six African countries on the grounds of South Africa will also form a delegation to promote peace between Russia and Ukraine, and the Ukrainian foreign minister also visited Africa this week.
Last weekend, during Zelensky's sudden participation in the Arab League summit and then the G7 summit, the ten-point peace plan he had been advocating also became the main topic of his meetings with world leaders. It is also reported that at the G7 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron) advocated that G7 countries should endorse Zelensky's ten points in their joint statement, but in the end it was not completely achieved.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Mohammed also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend this year's Arab League Summit Summit. （Reuters）
Even Biden's shift in position on the F-7 loss to Ukraine at the G16 summit actually points to the direction of negotiations, not just the direction of war. Even if many countries in Europe, led by Denmark and the Netherlands, with the permission of the United States, begin to prepare for the export of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, it will take at least half a year from basic training to fighter procurement. It can be seen that the goal of such fighters to Ukraine is not to help Ukraine's so-called spring counteroffensive, but to deploy Russia's self-protection military strength in the future even if Ukraine is not under the umbrella of NATO.
Arming Ukraine was originally one of the conditions that some Western countries tried to use to persuade Ukraine to start negotiations with Russia.
On top of the G7 summit, Zelensky also proposed to hold a "peace summit" on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the war (that is, in July this year), hoping to focus global attention on his ten points of peace.
Of course, without the conditions of the truce agreed by both Russia and Ukraine, the artillery fire on the Ukrainian battlefield will still not stop. But when both sides gradually see that war has become a needless and long-term attrition, starting negotiations while the war continues is the only rational way forward.
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