The killing fields of Bakhmut — what would Vasily Grossman say?

John Wight
5 min readJan 12
Vasily Grossman, Soviet war correspondent

As only he could, famed Soviet war correspondent Vasily Grossman, himself a son of Ukraine, evoked the brutal and bloody reality of war in his tireless work while following the fortunes of the Red Army on the Eastern Front during WWII.


The head of the driver of a heavy tank had been torn off by a shell, and the tank came back driving itself because the dead driver was pressing the accelerator. The tank drove through the forest breaking trees and reached our village. The headless driver was still sitting in it.

It is clear from the reporting by both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian sources that the most brutal fighting of the conflict in Ukraine thus far in has been taking place around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk these past few months. The resulting heavy casualties suffered by both sides have been acknowledged by Moscow and Kiev.

One can only imagine the terror experienced by the men involved, many of them conscripts and on the Russian side also convicts recruited by the head of the Wagner Group, the thuggish Evgeny Prigozhin. This is a man whom it would appear is intent on sending any number of men to their deaths in the interests less of Russia and more in service to his own legend.

Yevgeny Prigozhin

Prizoghin’s is the ignoble face of a war that could and should have been averted. However the deranged mind of your average Western ideologue could and cannot be shaken from the characterisation of Putin’s Russia as a latter day Carthage and the collective West, led by Washington, as Rome.

Whether it be Nato’s mad eastwards expansion up to Russia’s western border since the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the inability of Ukrainian leaders since 2014 to view its Russian minority population as anything than the enemy within, or the virtue ascribed to war at the expense of serious diplomacy in the run-up to 24 February 2022, the thousands killed and maimed…

John Wight

Writing on politics, culture, sport and whatever else. Please consider taking out a subscription at