Ukraine vows to strengthen front-line defenses in Bakhmut
KIEV, Ukraine: Ukraine on Monday pledged to strengthen its front-line defenses in Bakhmut after reports that Kiev is withdrawing from the city, which has become a symbolic price in the war.
The eastern Ukrainian city was virtually leveled in the longest and bloodiest battle since Russia’s more than year-long invasion.
Ukraine has reported an increasingly difficult situation around Bakhmut in recent days, and some analysts said its forces may have initiated a strategic withdrawal.
But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met top commanders on Monday, and his office said they were in favor of “continuing the defensive operation and further strengthening our positions in Bakhmut.”
Neither side has said how many troops they lost in the battle, with observers saying both Moscow and Kiev are trying to exhaust each other.
Russia appears determined to take Bakhmut at all costs, although analysts say the city has little strategic value.
Ukraine’s army said Sunday its troops repelled “more than 130” Russian attacks in a single day around Bakhmut, and said Moscow’s forces were trying to encircle the city.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War said Ukrainian forces may have initiated a strategic withdrawal from the city.
“Ukrainian forces are likely to conduct a limited tactical withdrawal from Bakhmut, although it is too early to assess Ukrainian intentions for a full withdrawal from the city,” reads a recently released analytical note.
As the battle rages on, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which is leading the Bakhmut battle, has lamented that his troops there are short of ammunition.
Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed late Sunday that Russian reservists scheduled to be deployed to Bakhmut had been diverted and that ammunition promised by the military had arrived days late.
“We are trying to understand what the reasons are – the usual bureaucracy or treason,” Prigozhin said on social media.
A Kremlin-affiliated businessman, Prigozhin experienced tremendous influence during the Moscow offensive and has regularly competed with the Russian army.
Ukraine also faced fresh airstrikes, with the air force saying it shot down 13 demolition drones launched from southern Russia overnight.
The Air Force said on Telegram that Russian forces launched 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones, 13 of which were shot down by Ukrainian forces.
– Russian Defense Minister in Mariupol –
South of the battlefield, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Mariupol, the port city that Moscow captured last spring after a long siege.
Shoigu is one of the highest-ranking Russian officials visiting eastern Ukraine.
He toured the devastated city to oversee the reconstruction.
Mariupol on the Sea of Azov fell to the Russian army last May and has since been largely cut off from outside control.
In Moscow, the Russian security service FSB claimed that it had foiled an assassination attempt on controversial pro-Kremlin tycoon Konstantin Malofeev.
The FSB accused a Russian-founded sabotage group that invaded the country’s borders from Ukraine last week.
It has been claimed that the assassination was an “act of terrorism” similar to the murder of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a far-right thinker and Kremlin supporter, last August.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch