Russia Running Out of Troops in Battle for Bakhmut, Battalions Split Up—ISW

“Russia is running out of troops in the intensifying battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, while battalions are being split up, according to an assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The U.S. think tank said on Tuesday that Russian forces in Bakhmut may be nearing “culmination”—the point at which an attacking military force can no longer continue its advance—as Russian forces in the southern Kherson region did in August.

Russian losses, the ISW said, are likely forcing the Russian military in the Bakhmut area to use squad-sized assault groups.

The think tank noted that on Tuesday, Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that Russian forces in the Bakhmut area are no longer operating as company and battalion tactical groups but are instead operating in smaller groups of 10 to 15 service members, in smaller groups of 10 to 15 service members, in squad-size organizations.

This move echoes a similar decision by Russia’s military in August in the Kherson region, the ISW said, when Russian forces similarly degenerated from company and battalion tactical groups to individual squad-sized groups.

“The Russian military’s rate of advance in the Bakhmut area has recently slowed amidst growing personnel and munitions constraints that will likely prevent it from maintaining a high pace of offensive operations in the area in the near term,” the ISW said.”

Comment: Well, pilgrims, either the reporter did not understand what ISW said or ISW does not understand what Clausewitz wrote is the “culminating point” of an attack or campaign. He wrote that is the point at which the positive factors in the attacker’s situation begin to be outweighed by the negative factors. The attacker may continue past that point and experience a great victory, but the risk grows exponentially of a sudden reversal and catastrophic defeat.

IMO the Russians at Bakhmut are well past the culminating point of the effort there unless they introduce massive reinforcements which they do not appear to have. pl

The Culminating Point of Attack/Victory (

Russia Running Out of Troops in Battle for Bakhmut, Battalions Split Up—ISW (

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40 Responses to Russia Running Out of Troops in Battle for Bakhmut, Battalions Split Up—ISW

  1. TTG says:

    Those squad-sized assault groups of 10 to 15 Russians are probably what’s left of platoons or companies.

    • KjHeart says:

      TTG and Col. Lang

      I know you (both) said this was (likely) coming – I am just still stunned by this…

      10 – 15 left of entire platoons or companies… it is eyewatering-ly sobering.


      • Pat Lang says:

        The Russians have since Peter the Great relied on masses of ill-trained troop. To quote H. Rap Brown the chickens have come home to roost.

        • KjHeart says:

          Col. Lang

          Also, (IMHO) I believe the Russians have also relied on one-hell-of-a propaganda machine.. Propaganda IS the ONE THING that, no one will argue, Putin has been really good at.


          • JamesT says:

            Years ago I visited the war memorial in Volgograd. Afterwards my friends and I had lunch in the cafe that was on site. The waitresses were wearing authentic WWII (female) army uniforms. The cafe was playing this martial music – I swear that after listening to this music for 5 minutes I was eager to grab a rifle and go to war … which is not my usual mindset. I became convinced that day that the Soviets were exceedingly good a propaganda and I imagine that Putin has inherited much of that expertise.

          • LeaNder says:

            I swear that after listening to this music for 5 minutes I was eager to grab a rifle and go to war … which is not my usual mindset.

            WWII was on your mind and all around you. But only the music triggered the desire to act? You were familar with it? What specific music. You remember?

            I stumbled across this forceful visual propaganda image from Soviet times.

            With TTG’s next article up here about light tanks in mind, triggered a quote from the Economist’ interview with:

            General Valery Zaluzhny: We have made all the calculations—how many tanks, artillery we need and so on and so on. This is what everyone needs to concentrate on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, it’s more important to focus on the accumulation of resources right now for the more protracted and heavier battles that may begin next year. I’ll be talking to Milley [America’s top soldier] about this [later today].

            … I know that I can beat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 ifvs, 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd. But I can’t do it with two brigades. I get what I get, but it is less than what I need. It is not yet time to appeal to Ukrainian soldiers in the way that Mannerheim appealed to Finnish soldiers. We can and should take a lot more territory.


            What is the Queen’s traditional Sword Zaluzhny was awarded according to Wikipedia. Wikipedians in search of an answer:

            In 2014 he graduated from the Ivan Cherniakhovskyi National Defense University of Ukraine. As the best graduate of the operational and strategic level of training, he was awarded the Transitional Sword of the Queen of Great Britain [clarification needed].[8]

          • LeaNder says:

            sorry, only the tanks and stuff needed was meant to be boldend. I may have mistyped again

  2. KjHeart says:

    found this on GETTR

    Putin saying (in an interview) that he is up for peace talks but Ukraine is not…

    So you do not have to go to Gettr

    The translated text is presented as follows:

    Putin: “I believe we are acting in the right direction. We are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. I reiterate. we don’t have any other choices but to protest our citizens. However, we are prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with the participants of this process. But it’s their business. Its not us that refuses to talk it’s them. ”

    FYI: The person posting this IS a Putin supporter (he makes that clear in another video)

    my thoughts: wondering just when this interview was recorded and find the timing most interesting,,


    • borko says:

      They both want to negotiate but the starting positions are very different.
      Ukraine wants all its oblasts returned and reparations paid, and the Russians want to at least keep Crimea and the land bridge to it.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Bk many other on this post (myself included) suggested running a longitudinal line down Crimea; half to Uk. half to Rus. Works in Cyprus (kinda). As for the east I’m thinking a UN guaranteed referendum in Donestk and Luhansk w/an oppnty for relocation to non agreeing residents.
        Ukraine will continue to arm and the neighbors will form a defense pact similar to (in addition too) NATO. There are difficulties in this.
        The realty of another Spring’s “effusion of blood” demands some time at the peace table.

        • borko says:

          IMHO, Ukraine is better of without Russian dominated oblasts, just like Serbia is better of without Albanian dominated Kosovo.

          As for NATO membership, it looks like Ukraine doesn’t need it. Sufficiently armed, trained and supported it can defend itself without full membership.

    • Leith says:

      Putin just rejected Zelensky’s peace proposal. FM Latrobe said there can be no stop to the conflict unless Ukraine cedes four oblasts to the RF: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and those portions of Donetsk, and Luhansk Oblasts outside of L/DNR. No mention of Crimea, that must be off the table completely.

    • blue peacock says:


      Putin is in a very weak position.

      His strategy was to impose regime change in Kyiv through the use of military force. His stated objective was to use a “special military operation” to “demilitarize & de-Nazify” Ukraine. Now, he is stuck in a military quagmire with a significantly degraded army and none of his stated objectives achieved. The Ukrainian army has the battlefield momentum and is strategically well positioned for the winter maneuver warfare.

      Putin no longer has the negotiating advantage that he attempted to amplify through the use of military force. Zelensky on the other hand is strengthening his negotiating position militarily. He has demonstrated that the Ukrainian government held through the Russian military invasion and that their organizational ability to resist the invasion was strong. Ukraine did not turn out to be some Potemkin Village. It has become a symbol of national resistance to Russian colonialism and galvanized the Eastern Europeans and Scandinavians.

      This has been a strategic debacle for Putin. He has single-handedly brought the Eastern Europeans and the Western Europeans together along with the US with the aim to significantly degrade the Russian army. He has shown the world that under his leadership the Russian army is not the super-power army in conventional warfare that everyone perceived. There is no reason for Ukraine to negotiate now as they have the battlefield advantage. With this gamble and yes it was just that, Putin has destroyed his own legacy. He will be remembered for this strategic failure.

      • different clue says:

        If Putin and the RussiaGov in general were to see things this way, would he/they decide that ” if we can’t have Ukraine, then nobody can have it”? Would he and/or the RussiaGov in general decide to Groznify Ukraine and then Lemayify it after that? And retreat leaving millions of acres of farmland well salted with many millions of mines?

        And if he/they decided to do that, would Ukraine and/or the West be able to effectively prevent Russia from achieving that kind of exit with those kinds of results?

        Should Ukraine and the West begin thinking about that right now in order to pre-prepare for preventing it?

        • Bill Roche says:

          “I see the Ukrainian situation differently” said Putin to Lavrov “If the Ukrainians wont submit to us, we’ll destroy them”. “But how Vlady”. “We’ll bomb that bunch of Bullacks back to the 13th century”. “Oh that’s good Vlady, they can be independent residents of the Huns”. “No light, electricity, clean water, schools, hospitals, jobs, food; they’ll come crawling to Mother Russia”. Lavrov asked Putin “And what should I tell the Finns?” “Tell them to pay attention, study their history, and remember we consider them little brothers”.

          • jld says:

            😀 You are pure propaganda, besting even TTG, we know of his motives (Lithuanian ancestry) what are yours?

          • Bill Roche says:

            JLD says I am better at propaganda than TTG. That is a compliment. Thank you. TTG has family history to inform him about the Russian hegemon. What are my motives? I despise colonialism and bullies.

          • TTG says:

            Bill Roche,

            Besides my Lithuanian heritage informing my views, there’s the whole “De Opresso Liber” thing bouncing around in my brain.

            As early as 1991, the newly forming trade union and political leaders of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, noted that the Kremlin appartchiki may shed their Marxist-Leninism, but they will never shed their deep seated hunger for domination and imperialism. Most of those attending these meetings organized by Solidarność leaders felt that Belarus would be the first to fall.

          • borko says:


            IMO, no one in this forum is better than TTG when it comes to presenting his/her views/facts, while conveniently downplaying or ignoring arguments to the contrary.

            TTG would make a very fine Pentagon spokesman. 🙂 Truly a man of many talents.

          • TTG says:


            There are several here who do a damned fine job of presenting their views. Fred and I often engage in lively discussions/debates. I usually learn a great deal in our discussions and I enjoy them. But neither of us are obliged to address contrary views or arguments expressed by each other. In the same vein, we are not obliged to address contrary arguments of anyone else in this committee of correspondence. This is not a job. It is an enjoyable leisure activity.

          • JamesT says:

            My sentiments are different than TTG’s on some matters – but as I remember it he and the Colonel predicted the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive ahead of time. This makes them the most credible voices about this war from where I am sitting.

          • LeaNder says:

            As early as 1991, the newly forming trade union and political leaders of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, noted that the Kremlin appartchiki may shed their Marxist-Leninism, but they will never shed their deep seated hunger for domination and imperialism. Most of those attending these meetings organized by Solidarność leaders felt that Belarus would be the first to fall.

            TTG, it may be a hunger for domination, as in authoritarian systems. But imperialist? Mirror Image?

            As a teen and young adult, me and my Hungarian, Polish and Czech friends wondered about the curiously parallel authoritarian structures in our everyday lives both West and East in some matters. As to unions: Not too long ago, news surfaced that a prominent member of the Left party has been observed by our Protectors of the Constitution, possibly the equivalent of your FBI, for decades. They collected all types of curiously innocent stuff like the birthdates of his children (important?) , or his public speeches as a member of a union.

            Belarus in 1991? Shushkevich’s 1991 support/ideas of a Commonwealth of Independent States were already indicative of some type of ongoing Russian imperialism? Irony Alert? They shouldn’t have borrowed the British term/concept? Or the closer you were, the less likely the Russians would want to give up some type of relations with you?

            You should read Robert Kagan’s latest article in Foreign Affairs. He argues that the British Empire or Commonwealth passed the baton of freedom on to the US, who is now the world’s only guarantor for liberalism and/or freedom, the light of freedom unto the world at large. 4 in 10 Americans, he tells us, would support American troops in Ukraine, beyond the volunteers. Just as they supported the war against Iraq to 72 percent …

            Everything changed when the British-led liberal order began to collapse in the early twentieth century. The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 revealed a dramatic shift in the global distribution of power. The United Kingdom could no longer sustain its naval hegemony against the rising power of Japan and the United States, along with its traditional imperial rivals, France and Russia. The balance of power in Europe collapsed with the rise of a unified Germany, and by the end of 1915, it became clear that not even the combined power of France, Russia, and the United Kingdom would be sufficient to defeat the German industrial and military machine. A balance of global power that had favored liberalism was shifting toward antiliberal forces.


            We are all neocons now? I have been wondering about that for more than a half decade by now.

            I am not a fan of Macho Putin, and his anti-liberal politics, but this war makes me feel very, very uncomfortable. Actually I would love to read a comment by David Habakkuk on matters. NATO suceeded more than he ever wanted them too, including his former colleague, who later was in charge of NATO propaganda.

          • TTG says:


            Russia seems to have an unquenchable desire to extend her territory and influence. That’s the definition of imperialism, although she’s a land empire rather than a maritime empire. She extends far beyond the borders of old Muscovy. Even if the reasons for expansion are more to secure the core from real and perceived enemies rather than to merely accumulate wealth and power, it’s still imperialism. Don’t get me wrong. Russia is not alone in the club of imperialists. Even Lithuania went through an imperialist period extending from the Baltic to the black Sea and to the gates of Moscow.

            I also wouldn’t mind hearing from David Habakkuk on current events in Russia and Eastern Europe. I’d also like to read Patrick Armstrong’s current views on events.

          • borko says:


            what is the point of having a discussion if parties just keep talking past each other without trying to understand each other and come to some conclusion ?

            It may not be our job, but this type of discourse reflects what is happening in media, politics and diplomacy (what’s left of it).

            There’s too much polarization and too little constructive dialog.

            FWIW, this blog, is one of the rare places where dissenting views can be heard and discussed in a civilized environment.

            Most other blogs are either rabidly pro Russian/anti US or the other way around.

          • jld says:

            Patrick Armstrong comments on Larry Johnson blog but he maintain a very cautious position, i.e. avoiding “crimethink” (his words 🙂 )

          • Sam says:


            “…he and the Colonel predicted the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive ahead of time. This makes them the most credible voices about this war..”

            Yup. And that was a contrarian bold call when the Larry Johnson’s, Doug McGregor’s et al were spinning every Russian army military debacle as a victory and how Putin’s military was going to turn it around at the next corner.

            IMO, Col. Lang’s analysis on military affairs has a long history of correctness. I recall the Tabouleh Line posts when Hizballah gave the Israeli army an ass kicking. Col. Lang was probably the only analyst that got it right. Similarly, TTG has been spot on with this Ukrainian invasion right from the beginning. It goes to show their depth of knowledge and experience in combat situations.

            Of course their analysis on this Ukrainian invasion does not fit with the biases of the anti-Americans and the Russophiles. That is what we have largely, people prefer to consume information that reinforces their preconceived notions. Very few want to hear critical viewpoints that are contrary to their biases. Hopium is their analytical framework.

      • KjHeart says:

        Blue Peacock


        Although I intellectually know this to be true, I am still deeply shocked to see how far Russia has fallen…

        The interview I posted a link to (above)- I believe it was given by Putin in February or March of 2022, during those ‘so called’ “peace talks” -I recognize the suit, the locale, camera angles etc. I recall that at the time he (Putin) seemed uncharacteristically chatty. I am not 100% sure on this but about 90% sure this recent soundbite, from a pro-Russia person, was an edit from that earlier, much longer set of statements made in Feb or March of 2022 (when Zelensky and Putin and company were having those meetings). The man (Putin) is very good at controlling his messaging..


        • Whitewall says:

          Russia has fallen so far that evidently China may be their only hope to halt the fall. I don’t know how far Xi Jing smiley face will want to stick his neck out for Vlad. China has its own problems.

      • Sam says:

        “Ukraine did not turn out to be some Potemkin Village.“

        This is an important point. The Ukrainian government did not collapse nor did Putin’s agents and Russian sympathizers in Ukraine have the ability to create internal political turmoil. Instead the Zelensky government has demonstrated good organizational abilities in prosecuting an effective defense and counter-offensives. In fact they are the ones showing initiative. From denying the runways at Hostomel airport on the first days of the invasion by repelling Russian airborne forces and knocking out the large Russian army force speeding to Kyiv from Belarus into a retreat, sinking the Black Sea fleet flagship, the recapture of Kharkiv and Kherson and on & on.

        While there is much to be said about this war from a military standpoint, it is clear from the airborne attack on Hostomel and the military thrust from Belarus that Putin believed this would be a cakewalk. Now approaching a year in this war and his army significantly degraded and reduced to responding to Ukrainian army initiatives, the question is when do the Russian people recognize that Putin has brought them much pain with his blunder to invade Ukraine? And of course can they do anything about it?

        • blue peacock says:


          The failure at Hostomel airport on day 1 of the invasion ended the decapitation strategy and set the tone for the remainder of the year. Putin underestimated the capabilities of the Ukrainian government and army.

          A belief in the superiority of Russian arms and special forces appears to have undermined a bold Russian attempt to end its ongoing “special military operation” in Ukraine on the first day of the conflict.

          Just a few miles northwest of Kiev is Hostomel Airport (a.k.a. Gostomel, a.k.a. Antonov Airport), a busy facility built in 1959 and now used primarily for cargo flights and tests of Antonov aircraft. Seizing Hostomel on the first day of Russia’s “special military operation” was part of a plan designed to use the skills of the Russian Special Forces and Russian airlift capability to strike a quick and fatal blow to Ukrainian resistance. Once the special forces overcame the airport’s guards, Russian troops, armor, artillery, ammunition and other materiel could be airlifted to the airport where they could be easily launched into Kiev to depose the Ukrainian government.

          “We were told about capitulation, we chose a counteroffensive. We were told about compromises, we chose joining the EU and NATO,” — Zelensky

          If NATO encroachment was the ostensible rationale for the invasion, then it has been a strategic failure in decision-making by Putin.

  3. Sam says:

    In #Germany, @DerSpiegel magazine says that the Russian asset in the BND security service was head of the unit responsible for signals intelligence focused on #Russia.

    When one adds this to former chancellor Schroeder on the board of Gazprom it becomes more clear that Russia had penetrated Germany, who had as Trump noted to much derision, that Germany had become dependent on Russia.

    The Russian intelligence penetration of Germany was a success, until Putin’s invasion of Ukraine when it all started to go south rapidly. The order to invade Ukraine in retrospect has been terrible for Putin and the Russian army as it has vindicated the Eastern European point of view.

  4. Peter Williams says:

    Putin is dying, has cancer, Alzheimer’s etc.

  5. Bill Roche says:

    Sam help an old man out; what is the East European point of view?

    • Sam says:

      Referring to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Morawiecki pointed out that the Ukraine war will end only with the defeat of Vladimir Putin.

      “We have warned that Russia’s colonial ambitions are a threat to eastern European countries and the entire EU,” said Morawiecki, adding that Europe must do everything to aid Ukraine, as the fall of Kyiv would open the way for Russia to conquer Europe.

      Bill, this is the message from leaders across Eastern Europe who have been consistent about it for decades. The only exception is Orban in Hungary.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Sam; thank you. I suspected that was the message. It isn’t surprising that many Western Europeans don’t see danger in Russia for I doubt the run of the mill Russian is savoring dominion over all of Eastern Europe. But the old Boyar class, and the communist commi”czars” still feel entitled to empire. The idea of European Empire seems such an anachronism that it begs one to say “c’mon man, you can’t be serious”. But the Russian elite are. I think that is what Putin means when he calls this war existential. It IS existential for a Russian Empire. If Putin can subdue Ukraine what chance can Moldova have? The Baltics and neighboring Slavs don’t have to follow the day after. Putin can set the wheel in motion and leave his successor(s) to finish the job. Some correspondents suggests Ukraine (and by extension Europe) is exchanging one oppressor, Russia, for another, the U.S./E.U. I abhor the E.U. and am concerned about the preservation of liberty in the future U.S., but the threat posed by Russia is real, right now, today. Ask the Ukrainians.

        • borko says:

          Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, the co-sponsors of Minsk agreements, admitted recently that the agreements were only meant to buy Ukraine time to get stronger. Merkel thinks that in 2015 Russia could have overrun Ukraine easily.

          If Russia wants to restore the empire, then why did they not force a regime change in Georgia in 2008 after they defeated their military, but withdrew instead ?

          Why did they not restore Yanukovich or install Medvechuk in 2014 when Ukraine had only small forces with which to fight back ?

          Russia might be recklessly going for broke now, but back then I believe they were still hopeful they could keep Ukraine as a non NATO, buffer state, where they would have to share influence with the West.

  6. Balint Somkuti, PhD says:


    If you allow I would be more than honored to show my hungarian perspective on the russian-ukrainian war.

  7. Sam says:

    A New Year’s Day attack on a complex in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Makiivka has killed scores of recently mobilised troops sent by Moscow, in one of deadliest single strikes against Russia’s forces since the war began.

    Apparently four HIMARS shells leveled the 3 story building housing 600 newly mobilized Russian soldiers.

  8. Sam says:

    Wagner’s Prigozhyn explains why he is unable to take Bakhmut – a line of defence every 10 meters, hundreds of lines of defence across the city. Russians lack armoured vehicles and equipment.

    While Bakhmut poses no strategic relevance for the Ukrainian army grinding down Wagner forces is a good objective for them.

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