Russia has been left with few uncommitted combat units in Ukraine as it seeks to reinforce its position in Bakhmut, British defence chiefs say.
In its latest intelligence update, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russia’s redeployment of “up to several battalions” in the area over the past four days followed Ukrainian tactical gains on the flanks of the largely destroyed city.
The MoD added: “With Russia likely maintaining relatively few uncommitted combat units in Ukraine, the redeployment represents a notable commitment by the Russian command.
“Russia’s leadership likely continue to see capturing Bakhmut as the key immediate war aim which would allow them to claim some degree of success in the conflict.”
It follows reports that Russian troops reportedly fled yesterday as Ukrainian forces made more headway in the bloody battle for Bakhmut.
The news from Ukraine’s east came as the army prepares for its biggest major offensive in months.
In Bakhmut, Kremlin troops bombarded access roads in an attempt to slow the Ukrainian advance.
Kyiv military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi said: “Despite the fact that our units do not have an advantage in equipment and personnel, they have continued to advance.”
He claimed they made most progress on the flanks, moving forward by more than a mile.
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin insisted his own troops were advancing inside the city but that Russian regulars had abandoned ground to the north and south.
Due to the withdrawal, Prigozhin said the pursuit to take Bakhmut has stalled.
“Bakhmut has still not been taken,” Prigozhin said in a voice message posted on Telegram.
“Bakhmut is unlikely to be taken either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
“There is a quarter known as the ‘Airplane’ - it is like an impregnable fortress from a bed of multi-storey buildings in the southwest of Bakhmut, where incredibly heavy battles are going on.”