Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said troops would fight for Bakhmut as long as they were able


  • Russia suffered five times more casualties in Bakhmut than Ukraine
  • Ukrainian forces are still suffering significant losses defending the city
  • Ukraine's top generals have chosen to reinforce Bakhmut instead of withdrawing

Russia has lost five troops for every Ukrainian soldier killed defending the besieged city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's partially occupied Donetsk province, a military official with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) revealed this week.

The five-to-one loss ratio was an informed estimate based on the alliance's intelligence, the unnamed official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss this information, told CNN.

While the claimed casualty ratio in Bakhmut did not favor Russia, Ukrainian forces were also suffering significant losses defending the city as Moscow tried to take it, the NATO official said.

"[T]he opponent, despite the losses, does not stop storming the city of Bakhmut and its surroundings," the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in a statement released Monday.

Russia's capture of Bakhmut, its primary target since last summer, could disrupt Ukrainian supply lines and allow Russian forces to advance on other Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.

On the other hand, the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group, whose fighters have been leading assaults on Bakhmut in recent months, fears the front line would collapse should it retreat from the area, Reuters reported.

"If Wagner retreats from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse. The situation will not be sweet for all military formations protecting Russian interests," Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group's founder and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a video published over the weekend.

Western analysts have suggested that Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut may be preparing to withdraw, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine's senior generals have "responded not to withdraw, but to strengthen [our defenses]," according to a report by the BBC.

"The command unanimously supported this position. There were no other positions. I told the commander in chief to find the appropriate forces to help our guys in Bakhmut," Zelensky said in a national address.

Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces, recommended a retreat from Bakhmut and disagreed with Zelensky on a defensive operation, German newspaper Bild previously reported, citing unnamed Ukrainian government sources.

Most defenders supposedly shared Zaluzhny's view, according to the outlet.

Russia has lost 153,770 personnel in its invasion of Ukraine since the conflict began more than a year ago, the Ukrainian military said in its most recent casualty report released Monday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine may have sustained more than 120,000 casualties in the war, The Telegraph reported last month.

Ukraine has pledged to defend 'fortress Bakhmut' for as long as possible