The number of attacks in and around Bakhmut has significantly decreased particularly over the last few days, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment on March 15.
Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has recently emphasized the toll that a reported lack of ammunition has on Wagner’s ability to pursue offensives on Bakhmut and said on March 15 that due to ammunition shortages and heavy fighting, Wagner has had to expand its encirclement of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin, however, claimed that Wagner captured Zalizianske, a tiny rural settlement located some nine kilometers northwest of Bakhmut, which indicates that "Wagner forces are likely conducting opportunistic localized attacks on settlements further north of Bakhmut that are small and relatively easier to seize."
Recent Wagner gains north of Bakhmut suggest that manpower, artillery, and equipment losses in fights for Bakhmut will likely constrain Wagner’s ability to complete a close encirclement of Bakhmut or gain substantial territory in battles for urban areas, according to the assessment. "The capture of Zalizianske and other similarly small towns north of Bakhmut is unlikely to enhance Wagner’s ability to capture Bakhmut itself or make other operationally significant gains. It, therefore, is likely that Wagner’s offensive on Bakhmut is increasingly nearing culmination."
The experts believe "the Wagner offensive will not be sufficient to seize Bakhmut."
"Russian forces are not pursuing active or successful offensive operations elsewhere in theater, and as the pace of operations slows along critical sectors of the front, Ukrainian forces likely have an increased opportunity to regain the initiative," the ISW found.