Even as Ukrainian fighters remain in Bakhmut, for all intents and purposes the city is now effectively controlled by Russia.
There has been an inevitability about its capture by Wagner and Russian regular forces for weeks.
I last managed to get inside the city at the end of January and the situation then was desperate.
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Ukraine’s defence of it has been hanging by a thread for a long time.
It’s estimated that for the last few weeks, it only controlled a few buildings – less than five per cent.
This is a significant moment in this war, but not for the reason that Moscow will present.
Yes, it has won but this massive battle is only really a small victory.
It’s taken months of fighting, huge amounts of material and the lives of tens of thousands of its soldiers to take a minor Ukrainian city.
Read that sentence again, and then reflect on the fact that when Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded, they intended to take the capital Kyiv; and it puts it all into perspective.
The self-proclaimed world’s second-most powerful army has really struggled to accomplish its mission.
Bakhmut is not of no strategic value, but its worth as a conquest is limited – in that context, its capture for Russia is a pyrrhic victory.
The fall of the small coal mining town is though undoubtedly a blow to Ukraine – it has poured a huge amount of resources into its defence.
Terror and desperation inside Bakhmut’s blackened nightmare
Zelenskyy denies claim Russia has taken control of Ukrainian city
Ukrainian forces will console themselves that they did effectively turn it into a “kill box” causing a significant drain on Russia’s war machine.
But for all the fanfare from the Wagner paramilitary group, the capture of Bakhmut is unlikely to be a turning point in this war – it will almost certainly not be decisive.
The focus now will turn to Ukraine’s looming counter-offensive.
Its success or failure is far more likely to have an effect on how this terrible conflict eventually ends.