Battle for Bakhmut: Ukraine ordered the evacuation of civilians and the Wagner group said it had conquered a nearby village

File photo: Ukrainian soldiers fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun at Russian positions on a front line near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region (REUTERS / Oleksandr Ratushniak) (STRINGER /)

Ukraine ordered this Friday the evacuation of the last inhabitants of the strategic stronghold of Bakhmut in Donbas, priority target of Russian troops and where for weeks the bloodiest battles of the entire military campaign have been fought.

“If you are a good, law-abiding and patriotic citizen, you should be evacuated immediately,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said on her Telegram channel.

Fighting in the streets of Bakhmut

Vereschuk admitted that “bloody fighting is taking place in the city” and that “enemy artillery hits residential neighborhoods.” “Only today five civilians have died and nine have been injured,” he stressed.

The head of Wagner mercenary groupYevgeny Prigozhin admitted that the fighting in the city, located in the Donetsk region, is fierce. “In every orchard there is a fortified district. The enemy prepared thoroughly. It was to be expected, ”he told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

After taking the town of Krasna Hora, Prigozhin has already made it clear that only his mercenaries fight in the areaalthough the Ukrainian defenders spoke of waves of inexperienced Russian soldiers, alluding to mobilized reservists.

This Friday Prigozhin assured that his paramilitary group conquered the village of Paraskoviivka, bordering on Bakhmut. “Despite the ammunition blockade, despite the significant casualties and bloody battles, the guys occupied the entire territory of Paraskoviivka,” he said, according to his press service.

“The Paraskoviivka settlement is completely under the control of Wagner’s PMC units,” Prigozhin stated.

Wagner fighters posing for a photo at the entrance sign to the village of Krasna Hora, near the besieged city of Bakhmut, Ukraine (REUTERS)
Wagner fighters posing for a photo at the entrance sign to the village of Krasna Hora, near the besieged city of Bakhmut, Ukraine (REUTERS) (CONCORD PRESS SERVICE /)

According to the American press, the White House advised kyiv to give up Bakhmut due to the high cost in human lives to defend a city, whose importance is more symbolic than strategic.

Washington recommended the Ukrainian army withdraw several kilometers on the grounds that the altitude in Chasiv Yar is higher, making it easier to defend.

In case there was any doubt, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky visited Bakhmut in December, where he decorated his defenders and assured that his troops have no intention of withdrawing.

Anniversary gift

“Bakhmut we need to completely paralyze the Ukrainian Army. According to our intelligence data, there are now almost 40,000-50,000 men there and the enemy brings new reinforcements every day,” Prigozhin said.

kyiv reports that the Russian army has increased the intensity of the shelling, turning the Bakhmut slums into an impassable ruin.

The Russian objective is to step on the Ukrainian stronghold ahead of February 21when Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first state of the nation address in almost two years will take place.

A damaged building in the city of Bakhmut (REUTERS)
A damaged building in the city of Bakhmut (REUTERS) (STRINGER /)

Still, Prigozhin has admitted that “Bakhmut will not be taken tomorrow,” as “the resistance is tough” and the city is “a meat grinder.” His forecast is that by March or April his units will have succeeded in closing the encirclement in Bakhmut.

Similar situations were already experienced in April in Mariupol (Donetsk) and in June in Severodonetsk (Lugansk), where kyiv ordered the evacuation before the siege was consummated and the siege of the city began.

Taking Bakhmut would allow the Russians to control the roads leading to Ukraine’s main strongholds in Donetsk: Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

forced evacuation

“Honestly, I am very surprised that 6,000 civilians are still working there. Once again, I urge you to evacuate immediately.”Vereschuk pointed out about a city that before the conflict was inhabited by more than 70,000 people.

The deputy prime minister warned that if these civilians do not leave their homes they could endanger their loved ones, especially children.

“Secondly, you create additional problems and risks for those who are trying to help you (soldiers, national police and volunteers),” he said.

In addition, Vereschuk assured that the presence of civilians makes the work of Ukrainian troops difficult when it comes to defending the city.

“Why do they have to constantly worry about your safety?” he wondered.

The Ukrainian war in ten iconic photos
Ukrainian soldiers making a trench near Bakhmut (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP) (YASUYOSHI CHIBA /)

Russia increases its military presence

In the absence of confirmation of the Russian offensive, the local and international press have reported an increase in the number of Russian troops, military equipment and planes on the border with Ukraine.

The newspaper The Timesciting Ukrainian military sources, speaks of 10,000 Russian soldiers concentrated north of the Sumy region.

As for the planes, the independent Russian press points out that the Ministry of Defense has decided to increase the participation of aviation in the fighting along the entire front.

NATO considers that Russia still has 80% of its planesalthough the problem would lie in the shortage of pilots with combat experience.

Meanwhile, in the Black Sea, the Russian Navy has increased its flotilla to eleven ships, which could simultaneously fire up to 24 Kalibr cruise missiles against Ukrainian territory.

(With information from EFE and AFP)

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