Ukraine intends to wear down Russian forces in Bakhmut to prevent them from continuing their offensive towards other Ukrainian strongholds in Donbas, the president explained. Volodimir Zelenskywhile Moscow continues its slow advance in the city, where it controls more territory every day.
“We understand that after Bakhmut (the Russians) could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Slovianskit would be an open path for the Russians after Bakhmut to reach other cities in Ukraine, in the direction of (the) Donetsk region,” Zelensky explained in an interview with the chain CNN.
The Ukrainian president thus defended his decision to keep his country’s troops in the besieged city where an unknown number of soldiers from both sides have died and whose population has fallen from 70,000 to less than 5,000 inhabitants.
“It’s a tactical issue for us”Zelensky said, before insisting that his top military commanders unanimously support prolonging his defense of the city after weeks of continuous Russian attacks.
Zelensky said his motivations for holding the city are “very different” from Russia’s goals.
“We understand what Russia wants to achieve there. Russia needs at least some victory, a small victoryeven ruining everything in Bakhmut, just killing all the civilians there,” he denounced.
To show the commitment of the authorities to the defense of the city, this Wednesday a new visit to Bakhmut from Oleksandr Syrskyicommander of the Ukrainian Army Ground Forces, the fourth overall in the past two weeks.
At the same time, the Ukrainian government decreed on Wednesday the mandatory evacuation of the children who still remain in the besieged city.
kyiv decided this week to maintain the defense of the city of Bakhmut and send additional reinforcements, despite the risk that Wagner’s mercenaries could close the siege around the city.
the ukrainian medium The Kyiv Independent in turn collected testimonies from more than a dozen Ukrainian soldiers who describe the battle for Bakhmut as “a carnage.”
Also the Wagner group, the main assault force of the Kremlin, uses the word “carnage” to refer to the fighting for Bakhmut or Artiomovsk, as the Russians call it.
However, the head of that paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhinhas assured that Wagner’s fighters will do their job in the city “until the end”, going so far as to compare them with the “300 Spartans”, in an apparent allusion to the lack of help from the regular Army, despite all the requests from Wagner to the Ministry of Defence.
Prigozhin assured this Wednesday that his units have taken control of the eastern part of Bakhmut.
This information was also confirmed by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which monitors the fighting in Ukraine on a daily basis.
“Russian forces have probably captured the eastern part of Bakhmuteast of the Bakhmutka River, following a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal from eastern Bakhmut,” the ISW said in its latest report.
“Wagner units have taken over the entire eastern part of Bakhmut, everything east of the Bakhmutka River is under the control of the Wagner private military company,” Prigozhin said in a message released by his press service.
The day before Prigozhin stated that 12,000 to 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers still remain in Bakhmutwhich offer stiff resistance to the Russian forces.
The head of the mercenary group praised the enemy, saying that “day and night” there is fierce fighting and “the Ukrainians do not run away.” “They die en masse for Bakhmut and surrender only in extreme cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenbergdid not rule out the early fall of Bakhmut this Wednesday, although he stressed that his conquest by the Russians will not necessarily mean a “turning point in the war.”
“We cannot rule out that Bakhmut may ultimately fall in the coming days. It is therefore also important to stress that this does not necessarily reflect a turning point in the war and only highlights that we should not underestimate Russia,” he declared upon arrival at the EU defense ministers meeting in Stockholm.
He stressed that in recent months and weeks “bitter fighting has been seen in and around Bakhmut”.
He also added that Russia is deploying more soldiers and that what Moscow “lacks in quality, it tries to make up for in quantity.”
For his part, Igor Strelkovleader of the pro-Russian uprising in Donbas in 2014, said that after the definitive capture of Bakhmut, the Russian offensive will lose strength.
(With information from EFE)
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