The city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk oblast of Ukraine was embroiled in the world’s most brutal conventional warfare since World War Two. The initial battle saw a ten-month grind by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, with Ministry of Defense (MOD) support at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties.

Bakhmut today has been reduced to rubble as Russia’s infamous carpet bombing tactics leveled what’s left of the city to the ground. Despite the victory gained by Russia, it has become evident that it was pyrrhic at most as Ukraine has counterattacked around the city.

The ongoing counteroffensive has seen Ukraine grind through the strategic heights of Bakhmut, and due to the Kremlin propagandizing the city, Russia now faces continuous nightmares where they wasted vast combat power to retain.

A Pyrrhic Victory

The battle of Bakhmut, which began in August 2022, saw its heaviest and most prolific combat around late December of that year, as Russia started a winter offensive to capture the entirety of the Donbas region of Ukraine. The battle was led by the Wagner Group, a famous private military company in Russia that uses hardline tactics to achieve their results.

Ukrainian brigades and their territorial defense would hold onto the city for as long as possible, despite Western pleas to tell them to abandon the city to focus on their summer counteroffensive. Nevertheless, Kyiv’s political and military leadership would hold onto Bakhmut into the late spring, denying Russia a propaganda victory on Red Army Victory Day and afflicting scathing attrition rates on Wagner and Russian Forces.

With support from Russian paratroopers (VDV) on the flanks, the Wagner Group would capture the city in late May. The Kremlin heavily propagandized the capture of Bakhmut, as the city’s fall was Russia’s first strategic victory since the battle of Severodonetsk in the spring of 2022.

The Battle Became the Spark of Mutiny

The Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, would often clash with the Russian Ministry of Defense over logistical support during their offensive. During the fighting, Prigozhin would display several dozen abusive messages at Russian Defense Minister, Shoigu, and his chief of staff, Gerasimov.