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Russian forces still focused on Bakhmut despite efforts to reprioritise ahead of counteroffensive

Russian forces are continuing to concentrate offensive capabilities in the Bakhmut area despite an assessed wider effort to reprioritize operations to prepare for potential Ukrainian counteroffensives.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar claimed that Ukrainian forces have liberated substantial areas to the north and south of the embattled eastern city. At the same time, she acknowledged that Russia is also making advances in Bakhmut, bringing in paratroopers and "destroying the city with artillery."

Russian forces have recently transferred elements of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Division to an unspecified area north of Bakhmut, likely from positions along the Svatove-Kupyansk line.

The movement of Russian forces from other sectors of the front to the Bakhmut area is likely a response to persisting Russian concerns about the stability of frontlines in the area amid the Wagner Group’s continued degradation in the offensive to capture Bakhmut.

Russian tactical offensive effort

These concerns were likely more pronounced in recent days which saw limited Ukrainian gains around Bakhmut and may have prompted further Russian concentration on the tactical offensive effort in the area.

The reinforcements are also likely meant to enhance Wagner’s ability to capture the remainder of Bakhmut rapidly and present a Russian tactical victory before possible setbacks during a Ukrainian counteroffensive operation.

Reprioritsing operations

The Institute for the Study of War assesses that the Russian military command likely decided to reprioritize operations and sustainment efforts in recent weeks to prepare for potential Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, although the continued concentration on Bakhmut may suggest that immediate tactical concerns could be undermining the larger effort.

Watch Sasha Vakulina's full report in the media player above.