That’s a very, very conservative estimate. Russia has been trying to take Bakhmut since August. Sacrificed at least 20,000 soldiers cannon fodder. And still hasn’t taken it.

Bakhmut is a very tiny, militarily insignificant little town. There’s no military rationale that explains sacrificing so many soldiers and an enormous amount of equipment to take it. If Ukrainians decide to leave Bakhmut, there are 6 more towns like it that Russians would have to take to get anywhere.

The massive sacrifices Russians have made to take Bakhmut have no parallel in modern military history. There’s no strategic reason for the effort. It’s done simply because Putin seems to consider it a matter of personal honor to take Bakhmut.

Ukrainian efforts to keep Bakhmut do have strategic meaning, on the other hand. Ukraine is preparing a big counteroffensive. It makes sense to grind down Russian troops and equipment near Bakhmut, forcing Russians to bare crucial parts of the frontlines where the Ukrainian offensive will take place.

I’ve heard that some Russian parrots rare geniuses have declared that whatever Russia is doing around Bakhmut constitutes proof of Russia’s imminent victory in the war. We’ve been hearing from these same people about this imminent victory all through Russia’s failed offensive on Kyiv, Ukraine’s brilliant counteroffensive in the Kharkiv Region, Ukraine’s lightning-fast counteroffensive and liberation of Kherson, and so on. Curiously, the very obvious failure of Russia’s imminent victory to transpire has not dissuaded the followers of the Russian plants in question from trusting them. And what do you call a person who consents to being fooled, time and again, by the same dishonest propagandist?

Recently, a batallion of Russian soldiers from Irkutsk filmed a teary-eyed plea to Putin complaining that they were given no weapons, no equipment and no training before being sent to Bakhmut. The video went viral but by the time that happened, they were all dead, every single one of them. These are all completely untrained civilians who aren’t even given a pair of boots. They get mowed down before they can say boo, let alone achieve anything. If that sounds like a victory, I wonder what your definition of a major trouncing is.

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