US intelligence agencies have seriously underestimated the toughness of the Ukrainian armed forces in Bakhmut. This is evidenced by documents in the hands of The Washington Post, which were leaked via Discord. In January, the Americans wrote that a “steady” Russian advance since November “has jeopardized Ukraine’s ability to hold the city,” and that Ukrainian forces are likely “at risk of encirclement unless they withdraw within a month.”
Three months later, the Ukrainians are still not driven out of Bakhmut. Russian forces advanced to the city center, but suffered heavy losses in the process. Nor have they managed to encircle the Ukrainians or cut off the supply lines to the city definitively. The loss of Bakhmut, according to Ukraine, would be disastrous for morale in the country, and Russia could use the victory for domestic and foreign propaganda.
The Ukrainian commander in Bakhmut, Colonel Pavlo Palisa, told The Washington Post that he had never seen U.S. intelligence. The fact that his forces have held the city for much longer than the US thought possible, according to him, is due to clever use of the urban environment and the deployment of reconnaissance drones. He sees the fact that the Ukrainians have nevertheless given up ground as the result of a shortage of ammunition. “It will cost us the lives of our soldiers.’