Russian troops control 76.5% of Bakhmut based on terrain assessment by the Institute for Study of War, or 30.7 square kilometers, the think tank reported in its daily update.
It added that on April 11, both the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner Group financier, mutually acknowledged their roles in the Bakhmut operation. According to the Russian MoD and Prigozhin, Wagner fighters lead the main effort to take territory and push Ukrainian forces in central Bakhmut, while unspecified Russian Airborne (VDV) elements make up the supporting effort on Wagner’s flanks north and south of Bakhmut. It is likely that the Russian VDV forces on the flanks only aim to hold the flanks and not make significant advances.
This force composition indicates that the Russian MoD plans to use the Wagner Group to capture Bakhmut while minimizing casualties among conventional Russian forces, ISW believes. This supports the think tank’s previous assessments that the MoD intends to use Wagner forces to capture Bakhmut and then take credit for the victory.