Ukraine war latest: Bakhmut ‘increasingly isolated’ as Russia appears to make progress on encircling the city

Key developments on Feb. 5: 

Bakhmut is becoming “increasingly isolated” as Russian forces are slowly progressing toward encircling the city, making it harder for Ukraine to keep supplying its troops inside it, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Feb. 5.

The intelligence assessment comes as the Russian Defense Ministry and Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claim to be advancing in the Bakhmut sector, in the northern part of Donetsk Oblast, and toward Vuhledar – a town that sits some 50 kilometers from the Russian-occupied Donetsk city.

Months into the brutal trench warfare around Bakhmut, Russian forces appear to be intensifying their assault after capturing Soledar, a salt-mining town located some 15 kilometers northeast of the city.

The U.K. Defense Ministry confirmed in its Feb. 5 intelligence bulletin that “Russia has continued to make small advances” over the past week to encircle Bakhmut, and Ukraine’s two main logistic routes into the city are now within the range of Russian artillery fire.

“While multiple alternative cross-country supply routes remain available to Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is increasingly isolated,” the ministry said in its Twitter post.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stressed the ever-more threatening situation around Bakhmut but vowed that Ukraine would fight “as long as we can” to hold on to the city.

Bakhmut is nearly emptied of its pre-war population of more than 70,000 people. The National Police recently said that some 5,900 civilians remain in the city, including roughly 200 children.

On Feb. 4, Zelensky said in his evening address that Russia was massing additional forces to break through Ukraine’s defense positions, acknowledging that the front-line situation is “only getting tougher.”

The hottest spots of the war are near Bakhmut, Vuhledar, and Lyman, a Donetsk Oblast city liberated by Ukraine in October, according to Zelensky.