KIEV—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly committed to holding his forces in Bakhmut after days of what seemed likely to be a withdrawal.
Moscow has sent thousands of troops in waves in recent weeks to capture cities in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces were entrenching further west and recently appeared to be preparing to withdraw.
But Zelensky’s remarks in his overnight speech suggested that Kiev had chosen not only to stay and fight, but to strengthen the city.
Zelensky said the command “unanimously supported” the decision not to withdraw. “There were no other positions available.
Russia has said that taking Bakhmut would be a step towards its main war objective, the surrounding industrial Donbass region.
“The liberation of Artemovsk continues,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in a televised remark, using Bakhmut’s former Soviet name.
“The city is a key stronghold for the defense of the Ukrainian army in Donbass. Taking it under control will allow us to carry out further offensive operations deep within the Ukrainian defense line.”
Reuters journalists were not in Bahmut for a week and were unable to independently verify the situation.
“The opportunity to damage the Wagner Group’s elite units and other elite units is tempting in a defensive urban warfare situation where the gradient of attrition is strongly in favor of Ukraine,” said the Washington-based US military. Put Institute writes. war.
Still, not all Western experts agree with the wisdom of Ukraine fighting in Bakhmut.
“With artillery ammunition shortages, increasingly contested lines of communication, and a war of attrition in unfavorable terrain, this battle does not serve Ukraine’s superiority as a force,” said the U.S.-based U.S., who last visited Bakhmut. Russian military expert Michael Coffman wrote. week.
The United Nations said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Kiev to meet with Zelensky to discuss renewing a pact protecting grain exports from Ukraine and Russia, the world’s largest suppliers. The deal, agreed last year to prevent wars that would cause global famine, expires at the end of this month.