UK Defense Ministry: Russian Defense Ministry insists on capturing Vuhledar as it competes with Wagner
Russia's Ministry of Defense has been "insistent in its drive for success" in Vulhedar, partially due to its competition with Wagner Group, which achieved tactical success in the Bakhmut sector, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on March 16.
Russian attempts to storm Donetsk Oblast's town of Vuhledar have "almost certainly" slowed in the past week, following recurrent, extremely expensive failed attacks, according to the ministry.
Russia's heavy losses in this area were partially caused by Ukraine's successful use of Remote Anti-Armour Mine systems (RAAM), the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update. RAAM is a special artillery projectile that scatters anti-armor mines up to 17 km from the firing installation.
"In some instances, Ukraine has launched the mines over and behind advancing Russian units, causing disarray when Russian vehicles attempt to withdraw," reads the update.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on March 9 that Russia could attempt to launch another counteroffensive in Vuhledar but was unlikely to make significant gains due to issues with military personnel and ammunition supply.
Vuhledar is located approximately 150 kilometers from the embattled city of Bakhmut, whose sector is dominated by Russia's state-backed private mercenary Wagner Group.
Wagner forces have taken control of most of the eastern part of Bakhmut, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry's daily intelligence update published on March 11. Wagner troops, however, are facing a new challenge with the Bakhmutka River that divides the city in two and now marks the front line.
President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on March 7 that Russian forces would have an "open road" to seize other critical settlements in eastern Ukraine if they capture Bakhmut, defending Kyiv's decision to continue the city's defense despite Ukrainian troops suffering heavy losses.
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