Muddy conditions could give Ukraine advantage in battle for Bakhmut

Muddy conditions could give Ukraine advantage in battle for BakhmutUkraine’s battle to hold on to Bakhmut could be given a boost as freezing temperatures rise, creating a mudbath for Russian forces as they try to seize the key frontline city.

Kyiv’s troops have been fighting to cling on to Bakhmut, in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, for more than six months.

Although Ukrainian military chiefs admit they may have to abandon the ruined city, the latest daily intelligence briefing from the UK’s Ministry of Defence on Thursday said increasingly muddy conditions were likely to hand defending forces a “military advantage”.

The MOD said: “As Ukrainian forces continue their defence of Bakhmut rising temperatures are now creating the muddy conditions known in Ukrainian as ‘bezdorizhzhia’, limiting cross country movement (CCM).

“Poor CCM typically provides some military advantage to defending forces.”

Russia says seizing Bakhmut would open the way to fully controlling the rest of the strategic Donbas industrial region bordering Russia, one of the main objectives of its invasion a year ago.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that his forces “are keeping each sector of the front under control”.

Delivering a regular morning roundup of the situation across the frontlines, the Ukraine military general staff said on Thursday that the enemy was continuing to advance toward Bakhmut and “is storming the city”.

It said Ukrainian forces were repelling attacks in Bakhmut and in other settlements in the Donetsk region that were coming under fire.

Ukraine says Bakhmut has limited strategic value but has nevertheless put up fierce resistance.

Ukrainian member of parliament Serhiy Rakhmanin said: “I believe that sooner or later, we will probably have to leave Bakhmut. There is no sense in holding it at any cost.

“But for the moment, Bakhmut will be defended with several aims — firstly, to inflict as many Russian losses as possible and make Russia use its ammunition and resources.”

Britain’s military intelligence chiefs added in their daily briefing that daytime soil temperatures on the vast eastern frontline are now largely above freezing.

They added: “Forecast warmer than average conditions for the remainder of winter and spring will further reduce cross country movement (CCM).

“It is almost certain that by late-March, CCM will be at its worst following the final thaw. This will add further friction to ground operations and hamper the off-road movement of heavier armoured vehicles, especially over churned-up ground in the Bakhmut sector.”

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