ussian forces are continuing to invest a large part of their overall firepower on a 15-km long frontline around a town in Donetsk, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned.
In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said the campaign to capture the town of Bakhmut has been “disproportionately costly relative to the gains”.
The update said: “Russia’s plan is likely to encircle the town with tactical advances to the north and south.
“In recent days, Russia has likely made small advances on the southern axis of this assault, where it is seeking to consolidate limited bridgeheads to the west of the boggy ground around the minor Bakhmutka River.”
They added: “Russia has prioritised Bakhmut as its main offensive effort since early August 2022.
“The capture of the town would have limited operational value although it would potentially allow Russia to threaten the larger urban areas of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
“However, the campaign has been disproportionately costly relative to these possible gains. There is a realistic possibility that Bakhmut’s capture has become primarily a symbolic, political objective for Russia.”
It comes after the Kremlin said that Russia would be open to peace talks but only if the West recognises illegally seized Ukraine territories as belonging to Moscow.
Russia annexed Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in September following a ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Kremlin-orchestrated referendums were also soon held despite not being internationally recognised.
Despite the recent remarks from the Kremlin, James Cleverly, Foreign Secretary, said there was a risk “a ceasefire is actually just used by Putin to train up more troops and to produce more ammunition and to refit his damaged armed forces and to rearm his armed forces”.
Adding: “The resolution to this needs to be sustainable, it needs to be meaningful, it needs to be real.
“What we have got to watch out for is a pause being utilised by Russia as just a way of making sure that its next phase of aggression is more effective than this current phase.”
Despite illegally claiming the four regions Mr Putin wants to claim as Russia’s Ukrainian forces have made advances in the east and south, in particular Kherson city – a vital strategic asset.