Before and after images show how Russia's invasion has shattered the city of Bakhmut

Destroyed buildings in Bakhmut Ukraine
Destroyed buildings in the city of Bakhmut on February 27, 2023.AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images
  • Before and after images show the devastation in Ukraine's city of Bakhmut.

  • The 10-month battle for the eastern city has been the longest and deadliest in the war in Ukraine.

  • Bakhmut was once flush with greenery. Now it's a gray city littered with skeletal buildings and brown earth.

The Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been all but completely destroyed. Homes, schools, and businesses have been blown out by months of ceaseless combat and reduced to rubble, and most of the city's people are long gone. What remains is a scarred landscape where thousands of lives have ended.

Satellite images from Maxar, released May 17, highlight the scale of the destruction caused by the battle for Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.

The horrific fight that began last summer is the longest and bloodiest battle in the war in Ukraine. The battle has seen some of the hardest and most intense fighting and tremendous losses, and it's not over. Neither side is backing away.

The Russian military and Wagner mercenaries began their siege of the city last August — though it faced regular shelling before that — and have been fighting to take control of the city for ten months. The Ukrainian army put up a fierce resistance, but it's unclear if they can hold out against the Russian assault.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Wagner for its fighting in Bakhmut, crediting them with the "liberation" of the ruined city. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy disputed that, with independent observers saying that the fight for control continues, though he conceded that the city exists now "only in our hearts."

While the city's ultimate fate remains uncertain, the following images capture how a thriving town of roughly 73,000 people became a war-torn, bloodstained battlefield.

Bakhmut was once a beautiful city full of leafy green trees until it became the target of Russia's ambitions and a symbol of Ukraine's resistance.

aerial photo of a green pre-war Bakhmut
Bakhmut in May 2022 before the battle for the city began.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Nearly all the trees and greenery have been wiped out. Bombs, artillery, and incendiary weapons, among other things, have laid waste to the city.

aerial image of a devastated Bakhmut
The same section of the city as seen in May 2023 satellite images.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

A school and apartment buildings in Bakhmut, now the site of brutal urban combat, were surrounded by grassy lawns and trees.

aerial image of leafy green section of Bakhmut before the war
This section of the city was also lush and green.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The same section of the city now looks like a brown and battered wasteland.

aerial view of brown bombed-out Bakhmut
A section of the city as it looks now.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

Bakhmut's university buildings and radio tower were surrounded by homes before the war.

aerial image of a green pre-war section of buildings
A section of Bakhmut seen from an aerial view in May 2022, before the battle for the city began.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The university and surrounding buildings are now nearly unrecognizable. The buildings, now skeletal, have been devastated in the war. The radio tower now lays on its side.

aerial view of a skeletal section of buildings
Those same buildings as they look in May 2023.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

A theatre and surrounding stores in Bakhmut were bustling with cars before the battle began.

aerial view of a theatre and stores before the war
A closer look at a section of the city before the battle.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Some trees remain in the city but most of its buildings have been destroyed as the Ukrainians and Russians trade fire daily. As a high-casualty fight, the battle has been described as a "meat grinder" by Ukrainian and Russian troops and "slaughter-fest" by outside military observers.

aerial view of theatre and stores after the war
Roofs have been blasted away and reveal the guts of the theatre and stores.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

In an aerial view of the entire city from May 2022, Bakhmut had corridors of greenery between buildings.

an aerial view of the city before the battle
The entire city as it looked before the battle began.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The city's buildings now appear brown and much of the greenery within city limits is gone. Bakhmut has been a focal point for front-line combat in a war that, in a span of six months between December and May, claimed an estimated 20,000 Russian lives. The Ukrainian defense has also come at a heavy cost.

aerial view of the entire city after the battle
An aerial view of the entire city as it looks now.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

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