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Bakhmut Meat Grinder Has Been Major Part of Russia's Winter Offensive

Updated: May 23, 2023

Former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark repeats US/NATO talking points, but does admit that Bakhmut is a "meat grinder."


Russia's Winter offensive was never about suffering large losses in men and equipment while slogging through mud that can be many feet deep in an attempt to regain large swaths of largely empty land. Instead the Winter offensive was always about using Russia's massive advantage in artillery and air power to whittle down Ukraine's military by killing or wounding as many Ukrainian soldiers as possible. It has been about using cities like Bakhmut and Avdiivka to create killing zones designed to maximize Ukrainian casualties and loss of equipment while minimizing Russian losses.

And with Zelensky's help, Russia has been able to accomplish this goal, as Zelensky has fed a10's of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers into Russian created hell-holes designed to kill Ukrainians while minimizing Russian casualties. Apparently, holding on to Bakhmut is important to maintaining the delusion that Ukraine is just one counteroffensive away from kicking Ukraine out the Donbas region and even Crimea. No doubt Zelensky believes that maintaining the illusion is critical to maintaining the flow of billions of US/NATO dollars into his government. Another aspect of this delusion was on display on May 1 when a Biden spokesperson made the claim that since December 2022, Russia has incurred 100,000 causalities, including 20,000 dead.

The Biden admin statement is ridiculous, as it goes against reason and history which tells us that the side with a decisive advantage in artillery and air power is going to be on the right side of the equation when it comes to casualties. And for Russia the advantage is truly huge, approximately 10 to 1, with the European Commission estimating that Russia fires between 40,000 and 50,000 artillery shells per day as to compared to 5,000-6,000 fired by Ukrainian forces.

So rather than the fantasy that last last six months has seen far more Russian casualties than Ukrainian casualties, the reality is that Zelensky has callously sacrificed 10's of thousands of Ukrainians in a war that Ukraine has zero chance of winning. Why Zelensky has failed to look out for the best interests of the Ukrainian people is not known. However the billions of dollars that continue to flow into Ukraine from US/NATO in support of maintaining the delusion of defeating Russian and the hundreds of millions of dollars being embezzled by Zelensky government cronies may be clouding his judgement.

Bottom line,the Russian speaking /Russian culture former provinces that broke away from Ukraine in 2014 aren't rejoining Ukraine. They are fed up with decades of anti-Russian bigotry.. And the violent overthrow of the Ukrainian Government by CIA backed Neo -Nazi and Nationalist extremists in February of 2014 was the final straw. These Russian heritage provinces will not willingly come back under the control of the anti-Russian language, Nationalist bigots currently in control of Ukraine's corrupt government And with Russian support there is no way Ukraine can force them.

So, if Zelensky actually cares more for the Ukrainian people than the billions of aid coming in from the United States and other NATO countries, he should immediately negotiate a peace with Russia that will have to include such provisions as:

  • The Russian speaking areas of the Donbas region and Crimea that do not wish to be part of Ukrainian are no longer part of Ukraine.

  • That Ukraine will remain neutral and not become part of NATO.

The alternative is to come to the same agreement 6 months from now with 10's of thousands more lives lost and 100's more billions in property damage done.

And the longer this war drags on, the greater the chance that Ukraine will cease to exist as a country.

A neutral Ukraine could thrive and prosper by fostering trade with both NATO and Russian Federation countries.


Excerpts from March 5, 2023 Kyiv Independent Story "

  • Ukrainian infantrymen told the Kyiv Independent of unprepared, poorly-trained battalions being thrown into the front line meat grinder to survive as best they could with little support from armored vehicles, mortars, artillery, drones and tactical information.

  • They say that Russian artillery, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers are often allowed to strike Ukrainian positions for hours or days without being shut down by Ukrainian heavy weapons. Some complained of poor coordination and situational awareness, allowing this to happen or making it even worse.

  • Mortarmen spoke of extreme ammunition scarcity and having to use weapons dating back to World War II.

  • Drones that are supposed to provide critical reconnaissance information are also scarce and are being lost at very high rates in some parts of the battlefield.

All this leads to terrifying casualties of both dead and wounded:

"The battalion came in in the middle of December… between all the different platoons, there were 500 of us," says Borys, a combat medic from Odesa Oblast fighting around Bakhmut. "A month ago [February], there were literally 150 of us."

Excerpts from Newsweek Article Interviewing retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Andrew Milburn:

  • "We're the only ones that are regularly posting pictures and footage and reports of what is going on, which is an absolute annihilation of Ukrainian frontline towns to an extent that I have not seen in the media," Milburn said.

  • "They've been taking extraordinarily high casualties," Milburn said of the units training with Mozart. "The numbers you are reading in the media about 70 percent and above casualties being routine are not exaggerated."

  • Despite their "tremendous morale," Milburn said the defenders "have an acute 'regeneration problem,' which means getting new recruits into the line as quickly as possible." This means those being thrown into the fight have little beyond basic training."

  • "Typically about 80 percent of our intake who are coming off of the line have never even fired a weapon before," Milburn said. "We've got our work cut out for us."

The massive losses the Ukrainian army is incurring against Russia in Bakhmut has alarmed Germany’s foreign intelligence service (BND), according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

“The Ukrainians are currently suffering huge losses near Bakhmut. The BND briefing informs about “three-digit numbers of casualties per day,” the report said.


30 to 1 seems crazy high, but it is more realistic than the idea Russia is suffering more casualties than Ukraine in Bakhmut.

Most Ukrainian Soldiers On Bakhmut Front-Line Killed 'Within 4 Hours'

  • KYIV -- The average lifespan on the frontline of the fierce fighting in the city of Bakhmut is "four hours," according to an American fighting side by side with the Ukrainian army against Russian forces in the Donbas.

  • Former U.S. Marine Troy Offenbecker, of Michigan, told ABC News that the situation in the city, which has seen some of the deadliest fighting since Russia's full-scale invasion, is "chaotic" and has been dubbed "the meat grinder."

  • "It's been pretty bad on the ground," he told ABC News. "A lot of casualties. The life expectancy is around four hours on the frontline."

  • "[The artillery] is nonstop," Offenbecker, who fights with the International Legion, a military unit made up of foreign fighters, told ABC News. "[Russia] have maybe run into a shortage of shells lately, but the past couple of weeks it's been nonstop. All day and night."

The Commander of the Neo-Nazi Svoboda Battalion, Petro Kuzik, Whose Unit is Trying to Hold Bakhmut

  • The commander of the neo-Nazi Svoboda battalion, Petro Kuzik, whose unit is trying to hold Bakhmut, told Western media that the fields and forests around are littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers, and they have to defend themselves in extreme cold and knee-deep in water.

  • “They [the Russians] sensed a weakness in our defenses because there are units that are less motivated than ours. And yesterday they slightly weakened our defenses in the area immediately around Bakhmut. Some units could not withstand this artillery onslaught and retreated.”

  • Asked how serious the loss of life is, he said: “They are colossal. We don’t even count the bodies.”

Wesley Clark: “Bakhmut is a meat grinder – the Russians led the Ukrainians into a trap”


in June 2022, the Guardian quoted Oleksiy Arestovych and Mykhaylo Podolyak both saying the Ukrainian losses are between 150 and 200 killed every day and 800 wounded, which at the time of writing of this article would constitute losses of up to 33 thousand killed and 132 thousand wounded in total. So the source is actually providing smaller estimation in places.


Previously, in texts dealing with the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, I avoided the topic of military losses, both for moral and ethical reasons, and also due to a lack of data from which any conclusions could be drawn.

However, I recently came across a very interesting figure obtained by the Russian LostArmour (LA) OSINT team, which collected and summarised data about killed officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In total, we are talking about 960 commanders in the rank from colonel to junior lieutenant (I note that LA in this case is a biased source, ideologically interested in the most accurate numbers of losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – in this situation, this fact plays a positive role).

Why is it important? Based on the exact numbers of casualties among the officer corps, one can gauge what losses the Ukrainian army has suffered over the past 5 months of hostilities.

First, an important clarification needs to be made – the current conflict is characterised by a massive use of artillery, and it is the actions of artillery that are considered the main cause of losses among the personnel on both sides. For the correct calculation, it would be best to rely on the research of statistics of losses during the Second World War, which by its nature is closest to the current battles.

In our case, these will be:

➖ Study “The Cost of War: the human losses for the USSR and Germany, 1939-1945”, carried out by The Journal of Slavic Military Studies (1996);

➖ Study “THE RELATIONSHIP OF BATTLE DAMAGE TO UNIT COMBAT PERFORMANCE” by Leonard Weinstein of the Institute for Defence Analysis (1986);

➖ Article “Fight Outnumbered and Win… Against The Odds” by US Army Colonel D. Hans, published in Military Review (1981).

How do we calculate?

➖ On average for the armed forces, the ratio of casualties of officers to soldiers is 1:24.7

➖ The classic ratio of wounded to killed in wars with an extensive use of artillery systems is 1:3

➖ The unit loses combat capability upon reaching 35% casualty level

➖ On average (taking into account the development of modern military medicine) 9% of the wounded become disabled, unable to return to duty

What losses did the Ukrainian army suffer?

➖ From 23 to 24 thousand killed

➖ From 70 to 72 thousand wounded

➖ From 6.5 to 7 thousand wounded who will not return to duty

➖ The total number of irretrievable losses (killed, disabled, captured) is 37 thousand military personnel

➖ The total number of losses (sanitary and irretrievable) is 108 thousand soldiers

The above figures, given the correctness of the data on the dead officers, are quite accurate – the margin of error fluctuates around 5,000 people. At first glance, such a number of dead and wounded seems staggering – and, of course, it is so from the point of view of universal morality.

But from the point of view of military science, these figures look quite different.

In the 5 months of large-scale hostilities (in conditions of a total fire superiority of the Russian troops), the Armed Forces of Ukraine suffered irretrievable losses of 14.5% of the total number of the pre-war professional army (255,000 thousand) or 5.3% of the wartime army (700,000 thousand people).

This suggests that structurally the Ukrainian army did not suffer losses that could undermine its ability to fight (for this, at least 35-40% of its personnel must be lost).

Moreover, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have crossed the “psychological threshold” of 100 thousand wounded and killed – in a number of studies one can find statements saying that upon reaching such a “threshold”, armies that have certain defects in their organisational structure lose the ability to perform combat missions, which is not something we can observe in the example of the Ukrainian armed forces. Therefore, the statements of individuals (or the media) about the imminent disintegration of the Ukrainian army due to “heavy losses” should be considered, at a minimum, irresponsible or incompetent – or, at a maximum, disinformation.

P.S.: The number of prisoners of war in the calculations is based on Russian data, according to which there are from between 6 and 8 thousand Ukrainian soldiers in captivity.

Continuing on the topic of military losses, the following key points should be noted:

➖ Noteworthy is the extremely low number of prisoners of war. The usual ratio of killed to captives in such conditions is 1:3. What is this related to? Probably, a combination of factors, including a rather high motivation of personnel, and a certain indicator of the quality of their training. The nature of hostilities certainly plays a role;

➖ The 35-40% casualties threshold also does not mean that upon reaching it, the process of disintegration of the army begins – this indicates a significant decrease in its effectiveness and ability to conduct military operations;

➖ The overall level of losses does not reflect their impact on the combat capability of mechanised units – these require calculations of a different nature, taking into account both losses in armoured vehicles and personnel;

➖ The theses that are based on the fact that upon reaching a certain threshold of losses the unit loses the will and motivation to continue combat operations are false. Where the morale of the troops is high, even very large losses will not bring the unit out of combat capability;

➖ The average monthly losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including sanitary ones, range from 21 to 22 thousand soldiers;

➖ The Ukrainian army is capable of conducting combat operations with the preservation of the current effectiveness for at least 7-8 more months, depending on the nature of their intensity, without the infusion of additional mobilised units. Taking into account the emerging positional confrontation, this period can stretch up to 1 year; taking into account the infusion of fresh reinforcements – from 1.5 to 2 years (these figures do not take into account changes in the military-technical equipment of troops in the direction of decreasing or improving quality);

➖ Apparently, the additional stability of the Ukrainian army is secured by the fact that the mobilised soldiers are used to be deployed in the “Soviet-type” battalions, i.e. with a large number of personnel that is directly involved in hostilities. Such units can continue fighting even when losing 70% of their personnel.


Any way you count it, the figures are stark: Ukrainian casualties are running at a rate of somewhere between 6oo and 1,000 a day. One presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych ( Former Advisor to the Office of the President of Ukraine), told the Guardian this week it was 150 killed and 800 wounded daily; another, Mykhaylo Podolyak, told the BBC that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops a day were being killed.

The sheer number – more than 20,000 casualties a month – raises questions about what state Ukraine’s army will be in if the war drags on into the autumn. The same is true for the Russians too, of course. But the invaders already control large chunks of Ukraine, and they can pause the fighting with the territorial upper hand.

Consider the figures in context. Ukraine’s army was 125,000 strong, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and there were 102,000 national and border guards in addition. Analysts’ crude estimates suggest that since the start of the war the total could have doubled to an impressive 500,000.


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