The Battle for Bakhmut Is Over. What’s Next for Russia?

The battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is essentially over, for now. After 10 months of brutal artillery duels, frantic troop advances and thousands of Russian and Ukrainian casualties, Moscow’s formations are in control of the industrial hub, while Kyiv’s troops are trying to put pressure on the city’s flanks.

But what comes next for Russia, which has said it aims to capture the entire eastern Donbas region, is unclear. Earlier in the battle, Moscow had hoped to use the capture of Bakhmut as a springboard for further advances to the west — aspirationally toward the larger cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. That goal seems out of reach for now.

Russian troops appear spent, military analysts say, after suffering extensive losses in securing Bakhmut. And overall, President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces have shown little ability to take more territory elsewhere, having been mostly relegated to smaller-scale attacks in a smattering of towns in the country’s east.

What Next?

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