BAKHMUT bled Wagner and the Russian army badly.
Fighting building by bloodstained building cost thousands of lives on both sides.
Worst losses were Russian.
Who controls the city is not as important as how much it cost to win it and how much it will cost to hold.
As Wagner blasted their way to its western edge, Ukraine launched a lightning counter-attack in fields to the north and south.
It now holds high ground on Bakhmut’s flanks.
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says he wants his men out by Friday.
Any hapless Russian reserves sent to take over Wagner positions will be hit by artillery from three sides — and may soon be cut off.
Russian soldiers sent to Bakhmut will drain resources elsewhere on the front — and may open a crack for another offensive.
Bakhmut has become a symbol of Ukraine’s heroic resistance.
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Its legend will outlive the ebb and flow of this month’s battle — just as bomb-blitzed Mariupol remains a source of pride for the way it was defended, long after its ruins were captured.
Bakhmut was supposed to fall in August, then by Christmas, then by February — then in time for Putin’s Red Square parade this month.
Russia’s only tactic is artillery and cannon-fodder infantry charges.
Ukraine’s Gen Syrskyi said Wagner ran like “rats into a mousetrap”.
The trap may not yet be fully sprung.