“Mentol” has never smoked a mint cigarette in his life and has forgotten why, one day, he inherited this nom de guerre. Commander 214e special “OpFor” battalion, the last Ukrainian unit to have left the city of Bakhmout, Lieutenant-Colonel Anton Lavrinuk chain-grills cigarettes under the awning of the house serving as his headquarters, in a village near Kramatorsk.
“Mentol” recounts a battle that was hell to the end, during the fighting in the last urban square defended by his men – seven nine-storey buildings – to the west of the city. “The tank and artillery fire was very intense. The enemy began to surround our men from three directions. We had to back off. We weren’t even able to take away all our dead,” he says. At the end, in the seven buildings, there was only “two or three positions” in the floors, that it was necessary “reaching with ropes” the stairwells were so ravaged by the Russian fire.
The capture of Bakhmout was announced by Moscow on May 20. Twelve days later, kyiv still refuses to officially recognize the fall of the city. The Ukrainian authorities, without providing operational details, argue that the battle is continuing for three reasons: the presence of special forces infiltrated in a sector of the city, that of artillerymen on the heights to the west, and counter-offensives in progress on the northern and southern flanks.
“The Battle of Bakhmout is not over. She has entered a new phase, said Wednesday, May 31, the Deputy Minister of Defense, Hanna Maliar, contacted by telephone in kyiv. Our forces are encircling the city from the flanks and our artillery is disrupting the rotations between Wagner’s units and the Russian army. We are on the initiative. The situation may change at any time. »
“Treat the wounded and sick”
At the forward headquarters of General Oleksandr Syrsky, the army chief in charge of operations in the Bakhmout region, Colonel Serhi Tcherevaty, spokesman for the military command of the Eastern region, also reached by telephone on May 31, affirms that there are both “fights on the edge of town and artillery duels”. “We still control a few buildings in the southwest of the city, and our special forces are still carrying out operations, he said. So we cannot say that the Russians have full control of Bakhmout. »
“Mentol” does not enter into reflections where political considerations and the military situation mingle. He simply confirms wearily that his men have left Bakhmout “May 23”three days after an announcement of victory made by the head of Wagner, Evgueni Prigojine, immediately congratulated, the same evening, by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
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