In a region located just 5 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, with a population of approximately 6,000 residents, the local community has been facing frequent shelling from Ukrainian military forces. In response to these hostile actions, the Russian armed forces, in coordination with the Border Service, National Guard, and Federal Security Service, are taking all necessary measures to eliminate the enemy threat.
On the same day, Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary for the Russian President, stated that the Ukrainian side is attempting to divert attention through acts of sabotage in order to minimize the political impact of Kyiv’s loss of control over the Bahmut region. He further emphasized that President Putin has been briefed on the situation.
Ukrainian Side: Surrounding Bakhmut in Progress
Following Russia’s announcement of capturing Bakhmut, international media attention on the Russia-Ukraine conflict has surged.
According to TASS news agency, Ukrainian President Zelensky stated during a press conference at the G7 Hiroshima Summit on the 21st that Ukrainian troops are still present in Bakhmut, and the city has not been occupied by Russia. Ukrainian President’s Press Secretary, Nikiforov, also clarified Zelensky’s previous statement that seemingly admitted the loss of Bakhmut. Nikiforov explained that when asked two questions simultaneously, “Is Bakhmut still under Ukrainian control?” and “Russia claims to have taken control of Bakhmut,” Zelensky’s response of “I don’t think so” was directed towards the second question.
Ukrainian Army Commander Serhiy Selsky stated on the 21st that Ukrainian forces continue to advance on the outskirts of Bakhmut, strategically encircling and controlling the city. Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Mariyal also mentioned on the 21st that Russian forces failed to encircle Bakhmut and lost some advantageous high ground positions around the city. Mariyal stated that Ukrainian forces have formed a semi-encirclement of Bakhmut, forcing Russian forces to defend the areas under their control. Ukrainian troops still maintain control over the industrial and infrastructural “Samolet” district in the southwest of Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, the founder of the private military group “Wagner,” Prigozhin, claimed on social media on the 21st that there isn’t a single Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut, and that Russia controls all of its territory. Prigozhin stated, “Zelensky is either lying or completely unaware of what is happening in the area.”
Intense Fighting Continues
According to the operational report released by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the 22nd, there is still no confirmation of the loss of Bakhmut. Based on the report, Bakhmut and Marinka remain the focal points of Russian offensive operations, with the main efforts of Russian forces concentrated in the directions of Kupyansk, Red Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka. On the 21st, there were 37 engagements reported in these areas. The Ukrainian Air Force Command also reported on the 22nd that Russian forces launched attacks on military and infrastructure targets near the Dnieper River on the evening of the 21st. In the early morning of the 22nd, the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces shot down 20 Russian drones and intercepted 4 cruise missiles.
On the 22nd, the Ukrainian State Nuclear Power Corporation announced that due to early morning shelling by Russian forces, the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant experienced a power outage at around 5:26 am, resulting in the shutdown of the last high-voltage transmission line. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Grossi stated that this is the seventh time the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant has entered a blackout mode, and the current situation of the plant is “extremely vulnerable.”
According to the Russian news channel “Rossiya-24,” the acting leader of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” Pushilin, stated on the 22nd that preliminary demining work has begun in Bakhmut, and Russian forces are inspecting the buildings for explosives. Currently, Russian forces are still advancing towards the directions of Avdiivka and Marinka, despite Ukrainian military headquarters continuing to deploy reinforcements and probing Russian defenses in both directions.
Assessing the Direction of the Conflict
According to a report from The New York Times on the 21st, Russia’s claim of victory in the battle for Bakhmut signifies the end of the longest and bloodiest battle in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. However, the future development of the situation remains uncertain. The report suggests that Ukraine may launch attacks from the outskirts of Bakhmut to regain the initiative.
On the 22nd, Ukraine’s 24 TV Channel website reported that the battle for Bakhmut did not favor the Russian military. Russian forces have been constrained and depleted in this area, lacking fresh troops, sufficient ammunition, and weaponry to launch a larger-scale offensive. In contrast, the Ukrainian military continues to receive new military assistance and supplies, with a planned counteroffensive on the horizon. The Washington Post, citing analysis from a Washington-based war research institute, reported on the 22nd that Ukraine is preparing for a “spring offensive,” and Russia may need reinforcements to hold onto Bakhmut and its surrounding areas. The Wagner Group, having suffered significant personnel losses in Bakhmut, is unlikely to continue fighting “outside of Bakhmut in its current state.”
According to the Russian news website URA.RU on the 22nd, Ukraine’s loss of Bakhmut has led to a growing weariness in the West, potentially forcing Western powers to consider pushing for Russian-Ukrainian negotiations to end the conflict. The news website NEWS.RU reported that after losing Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military has established defensive lines along Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka, and Shevels’k. The situation in Bakhmut remains tense, and Russian forces need to prepare for subsequent defense and offensives. An article on the website of the Russian weekly Argumenty i Fakty suggests that after gaining control of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military may continue launching fierce attacks, aiming to occupy even a few settlements to diminish the grim impression left by the loss of Bakhmut.