The security expert Christian Mölling expects hard and costly fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Mölling said on Friday in the stern podcast "Ukraine – the situation" that, according to the Ukrainian side, there were seven Russians killed for every dead soldier. Even if Western sources are somewhat more cautious about this, he has the impression that the attitude in Kiev has come to "it's still worth it. The toll in blood is okay." He says it deliberately, even if the view must appear very uncomfortable to a German audience. It now depends on who can hold out longer.
The second consideration is that the Ukrainian leadership is apparently gaining the impression that the "Russian side is on the verge of an offensive collapse." So you want to keep the pressure high and not give in. As the research director of the German Society for Foreign Policy explained, there is no reason to expect the Russians to back down either. Last but not least, there is a dispute between the Ministry of Defense and the Wagner troops, who wanted to prove their effectiveness in Bachmut. "Russia cannot say: Then we'll withdraw - because it has become such a political symbol," explained Mölling. This applies regardless of the fact that taking Bakhmut would also entail risks for the Russian forces, since it would make them easier to reach for Ukrainian artillery fire.
Mölling said that in eastern Ukraine, a phase begins around this time of year in which vehicles sink into the mud off paved roads. Large-scale operations are therefore only possible later. At the moment the Ukrainians are concerned with preparing an upcoming offensive and at the same time weakening the enemy's troops on the current fronts as much as possible. From a military perspective, the ratio of casualties in Bakhmut is indeed important, since it affects the future offensive capabilities of the opponents, even on completely different front sections. He saw Russia weakened by the costly fighting of the past few weeks and months: "Obviously we are already at the point where the 300,000 conscripts levied last year have been used up - and I say that quite consciously, because they are not human dug up, but as cannon fodder."