- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Three Key Goals Russia Achieved by Liberating Artemovsk

© Sputnik / Go to the mediabankWagner Group forces operating in the ruins of Artemovsk (Bakhmut). May 19, 2023.
Wagner Group forces operating in the ruins of Artemovsk (Bakhmut). May 19, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2023
The Russian military confirmed Sunday that operations by assault detachments supported by artillery and aviation of the Southern Group of Forces had led to the total liberation of the DPR city of Artemovsk. Alexey Leonkov, one of Russia’s top military observers, told Sputnik what this means tactically, strategically, and politically.
The northeastern Donetsk People’s Republic city of Artemovsk (also called Bakhmut) has been reduced to rubble, with entire districts leveled, and most of its 70,000 residents fleeing. Ukrainian forces left Artemovsk after 224 days of brutal house-to-house fighting, with Russian forces estimating losses of 30,000 or more Ukrainian troops and foreign mercenaries.
The Russian military has yet to provide data on losses on the Russian side, prompting the State Department and Kiev to conjure up fantastical figures of up to 100,000 dead or injured. The Kremlin has dismissed these "invented out of thin air" figures, saying Washington "simply does not have the possibility to name any correct figures."
US President Joe Biden on Sunday attempted to downplay the significance of Artemovsk's loss, saying that there aren't "many buildings left standing" in the city, and that Ukrainian forces had "been able to lock down an awful lot of Russian forces, including the Wagner Group" in the fighting. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had once dubbed Bakhmut the "fortress of our morale," compared the scale of destruction in the city to Hiroshima, prompting a retort from Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who quipped that “the White House arranged both.”

Why is Artemovsk So Important?

What is it about Artemovsk that led both sides to dig in so deeply and commit such immense human and material resources to fighting for the city? Russian military observer Alexey Leonkov says the city’s significance in the broader Russia-NATO proxy war in Ukraine can be divided into three parts: military operational-tactical, military strategic, and political.
A service member of Russia's private military company Wagner Group inspects a building in Artemovsk, also known as Bakhmut, as Russia's military operation in Ukraine continues, Donetsk People's Republic, Russia. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2023
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Russia Liberating Artemovsk Proves 'Kiev’s Strategy Has Failed’
In the operational-tactical sense, the battle for Artemovsk led to the loss of large numbers of Ukrainian troops and vast quantities of military equipment, and cracked open one of Kiev’s major fortified stronghold in Donbass, with others including the Avdeevka-Mariinsk-Gorlovka grouping and the Severodonetsk-Kramatorsk grouping of forces.

"These two groupings, against which even more concentrated hostilities will be waged, will open [Russian forces' path] to Pavlograd, after which the expanses of the so-called operational steppe begin, where camouflage will become an issue, and where the concentration of enemy forces will become a very difficult and costly undertaking," Leonkov said.

"It's clear that we will not limit ourselves to the liberation of the Donetsk People's Republic to its administrative borders," Leonkov added, noting that fighting will continue in Kherson and Zaporozhye, and that an effort will be made to "move the danger stemming from the weapons Ukraine has received away from our borders."

"Right now this relates to the range of the Storm Shadow missiles – which have a range of 560 km. Take the entire line of contact, measure 560 km and draw the point where we should stop. I think this will be not only the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, but Odessa, Nikolayev, Krivoy Rog, Poltava, Sumy, Chernigov and so on. Plus, of course, the Kharkov region. In other words, [Kiev] themselves have indicated to us where the frontier we move to should be, because it’s the distance to which we move the danger away from our borders," the observer said.

Американская M142 (HIMARS) выпустила ракету во время совместных военных учений Филиппин и США Салакниб, Филиппины - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.05.2023
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Russian Air Defense Intercepts 12 HIMARS Rockets, Storm Shadow Missiles - MoD

Military Strategic Significance

At the strategic level, Leonkov noted, the concentration of fighting in and around Artemovsk over these past months gave the Russian side time to train its mobilized troops and to recruit additional contract fighters, while Russia’s military-industrial complex received time to mobilize its resources and ramp up production to wartime levels.
"That is, the amount of ammunition we're producing now is much higher than it was at the start of the special military operation," the observer said. "Besides this, the production of weapons which at the start…numbered in the single digits were increased. Take for example the Tornado-S high-precision rocket artillery system, a direct competitor to the HIMARS and which surpasses the US system in many technical characteristics. At the start of the special military operation there were only about 20 units of this system, while now there are over 100, and this number is growing."

Throughout the battle for Artemovsk, "the enemy thought he was constricting our forces, where in actuality we were the ones constricting his forces in order to carry out [the abovementioned] rearrangements, to increase our firepower and strength in a calm, planned manner," Leonkov stressed.

In addition, Leonkov said, the concentration of Ukrainian forces in Artemovsk prevented Kiev from launching offensive operations in other areas, including the long-promised spring counteroffensive.
"When they were fighting for Bakhmut and said that this city would not be surrendered under any circumstances, they associated its defense with preparations for a counteroffensive. The idea was that Bakhmut would draw in significant [Russian] forces, while [Kiev] would be able to build up a force on that point on the line of contact where they were planning their offensive," Artemovsk "practically destroyed" these plans, the observer said.
A view shows a damaged monument in Artemovsk, also known as Bakhmut, in the Donetsk People's Republic, Russia. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2023
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Scott Ritter: Artemovsk's Liberation 'Military Victory That Shows Russia is Winning'

Political Significance

The third significant component of Artemovsk’s liberation is its political symbolism, and has to do with NATO’s support for Kiev in the proxy war against Russia, according to Leonkov.
"The supply of weapons and military equipment in Artemovsk was mainly assigned to the European countries, with systems from their arsenals becoming the main ones. Precisely when we began to work effectively in the use of air-dropped glide bombs, the burden of supplying weapons and military equipment had fallen on the Europeans, who managed to crush voices of dissent demanding a halt to the supply of weapons to Ukraine. The weapons were delivered on the expectation that they would be needed to help Ukraine hold on to this territory. But the city was lost, and with great losses," both among Ukrainians and foreign mercenaries – "possibly including even professional [NATO] soldiers," the observer noted.
"How the European Union will explain these losses to its citizens is an open question. Maybe they will not explain, instead shutting them up with money, and this will remain hidden behind the scenes. But sooner or later it will still leak out and become public knowledge. Therefore, I think that the forces advocating for the reduction of European military assistance to Ukraine will receive an additional argument, which they will use to put pressure on officials. Therefore, I think that for them, the loss of Bakhmut will not pass unnoticed," Leonkov summed up.
In other words, the loss of Artemovsk, together with other recent Russian victories on the battlefield - from the elimination of Patriot missile systems in Kiev to the recent destruction of a massive NATO ammo dump in Khmelnitsky, western Ukraine to the loss of Ukrainian artillery systems by the dozens using drones might motivate President Zelensky's Western partners to rethink their priorities, and finally force Kiev to the negotiating table.
Russian troops in the center of Artemovsk - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2023
Sputnik Explains
Why is Bakhmut Called Artemovsk and What's Its True Story?
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала