Russia moves closer to capturing Ukraine’s Bakhmut after months of fighting: first major victory in half a year

Russian soldiers and mercenaries rained cannons on the last access roads to the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Friday, bringing Moscow closer to its first major victory in half a year after the bloodiest battle of the war.

The head of Russia’s Wagner private army said the city, which had been left in ruins by Russia’s more than seven-month offensive, was almost completely surrounded, with only one road still open to Ukraine’s forces.

Read this also ‘Allowing Russia to…’: What US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the Quad meeting

Reuters saw Russian shelling on roads leading west from Bakhmut, in an apparent attempt to block Ukrainian military access in and out of the city. Russian tank shelling damaged a bridge in the nearby town of Khromov.

Ukrainian troops were working to repair damaged roads and more troops were moving towards the front line in a sign that Ukraine was not yet ready to give up the city. To the west, the Ukrainians were digging new trenches for defensive positions.

Russia’s RIA state news agency released a video showing Wagner fighters operating near a damaged industrial facility. A fighter is heard saying that Ukrainian forces are destroying infrastructure in settlements near Bakhmut to prevent a Russian encirclement.

Ukraine’s army commander Alexander Syrsky visited Bakhmut on Friday for a briefing with local commanders on how to increase the defense capability of frontline forces.

A Russian victory at Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of around 70,000, would give it the first major prize of a costly winter offensive after hundreds of thousands of reservists were called up the previous year. Russia says it will be a key step in capturing the surrounding Donbass industrial region, a key war target.

Before the war Bakhmut was known for salt and gypsum mines. Ukraine says the city has little strategic importance but heavy casualties there could turn the tide of the conflict.

‘The pincers are closing’

“Units of the private military company Wagner have practically surrounded Bakhmut,” Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video Reuters filmed on a terrace in a village about 7km (4 miles) north of the city center .

“There is only one way (out) left,” he said. “The pincers are coming off.”

They called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a retreat from Bakhmut to save the lives of his soldiers. The three Ukrainians caught on camera – a grey-bearded old man and two boys – asked to be allowed to go home.

Robert Brovdy, the commander of the Ukrainian drone unit operating in Bakhmut, known as “Madyar”, said in a video posted on social media that his unit had been ordered to withdraw immediately. He said that he has been fighting there for 110 days.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, a deputy commander in Ukraine’s National Guard, told Ukrainian NV radio that the situation was “critical” with fighting “round the clock”.

“They do not keep any account of their losses in trying to take the city by assault. The task of our army in Bakhmut is to inflict maximum damage on the enemy. Every meter of Ukrainian land costs the enemy hundreds of lives,” he said. Said.

“We have many more Russians than ammunition to destroy them.”

more american weapons

The past few days have seen alarm in Russia over its potential vulnerabilities, after Moscow reported a number of drone attacks on targets deep inside Russia, followed by an armed cross-border raid on Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin on Friday asked his Security Council to step up “anti-terrorist measures”.

Meanwhile, Zelensky visited wounded soldiers at a military hospital in Lviv. One apologized while shaking hands with the president from the bed that he could not stand. “It’s okay,” Zelensky said. “The time will come and you will rise.”

Zelensky gave no details of the fighting in Bakhmut during an evening video address in which he thanked troops for “strongly and bravely” defending the town.

Denis Yaroslavsky, commander of a Ukrainian army unit in Bakhmut, told Espresso TV that parts of some units had been ordered to rotate to more secure locations, describing the situation since morning as “a slaughterhouse on both sides”.

Ukrainian military expert Oleh Zhdanov said in a YouTube commentary that there is a risk of encirclement of Ukraine’s military.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced another round of military aid for Ukraine, a package of ammunition and other aid worth $400 million.

Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, the US has provided nearly $32 billion in aid to Ukraine.

At the White House, US President Joe Biden called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his “intense” support on Ukraine. Scholz said it was important to convey that support for Ukraine would continue “as long as necessary and for as long as necessary.”

After their meeting, the White House said the pair reiterated their commitment to impose costs on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Germany promises to build Leopard tanks in January and is expected to be the core of a new Ukrainian armored force.

Scholz has been criticized by some Western allies for taking a cautious public stance toward arming Ukraine, although he has seen a major shift in policy from a country that was Russia’s biggest energy customer before the war.

Kiev’s ambassador to Berlin, Oleksiy Makeyev, said Germany is now taking a leadership role in arming Ukraine.

Moscow, which says it has annexed about a fifth of Ukraine, accuses western Kiev of posing a security threat. Ukraine and its allies say the invasion was an unprovoked war of conquest.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of hypocrisy on Friday, pointing to US military interventions around the world, when Blinken said Moscow cannot be allowed to wage war in Ukraine. The two men met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in India.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button