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Russian forces are unlikely to encircle Bakhmut soon, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on March 4.
“Russian forces appear to have secured a sufficient positional advantage to conduct a turning movement against certain parts of Bakhmut but have not yet forced Ukrainian forces to withdraw and will likely not be able to encircle the city soon,” the ISW said in its daily report.
While Russian offensives into Bakhmut have reportedly been “slow and gradual,” they have, however, managed to “push close enough to critical ground lines of communication from the northeast to threaten Ukrainian withdrawal routes in a classical turning movement.”
Earlier on March 4, Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said Russian forces have not taken the city of Bakhmut. He said that fighting is ongoing on the outskirts of the beleaguered Ukrainian city.
On March 3, the ISW suggested that Ukrainian forces appeared to be preparing conditions for a planned withdrawal from the city. However, when asked about certain units’ withdrawal, Cherevatyi said that Ukrainian troops are rotating in and out of their positions in a planned manner.
Russian forces have been trying to take Bakhmut since May 2022 without success. The Donetsk Oblast city continues to see some of the war’s heaviest fighting since the full-scale invasion began.
Ukrainian forces in the town of Kostiantynivka told the Kyiv Independent that Russian attacks have intensified even more in the past several weeks. British intelligence said in its daily update that regular Russian forces and the Wagner Group mercenaries have advanced further into the town's northern suburbs. Ukraine is said to be reinforcing the area with elite units.