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War in Ukraine, day 374 | Russian Defense Minister inspects the front, battle in Bakhmut



(Moscow) The Russian Minister of Defense conducted an inspection on the front in eastern Ukraine, his ministry said on Saturday, as the battle for the symbolic city of Bakhmout rages and Washington announced new military aid to Kyiv.

The Russian Ministry of Defense indicated that Sergei Shoigu had “inspected a command post on the front”, in “the Donetsk-South direction”, without specifying the exact place or the date of this visit.

The ministry released a video showing Mr. Shoigu traveling in a helicopter, then talking to a soldier in front of damaged buildings, under the guard of a soldier.


The Russian Defense Ministry reported that Sergei Shoigu speaking with an officer

The day before, the paramilitary group Wagner, which regularly accuses the Russian army command of not providing enough support, claimed to have “virtually surrounded” Bakhmout, in the Donetsk region, and called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to sound the withdrawal of his troops.

While the fighting is fierce in this area, President Joe Biden announced new military aid to Ukraine of $ 400 million on Friday, during the visit to Washington of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Western military aid to Ukraine has been crucial in enabling Kyiv to resist Russian troops and even regain ground, but the Kremlin has said such aid would only “prolong the conflict”.

Washington nevertheless announced this new military support, including ammunition, notably for the Himars rocket system that Ukrainian forces used with devastating effect on Russian troops and logistics lines.

On Twitter, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov thanked the United States and hailed a new “solid investment for the future successes of the Ukrainian army on the battlefield”.

For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky met on Saturday in Lviv, in western Ukraine, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. “Ukraine aims […] to start negotiations to join the EU this year,” he said in a message on Telegram.


European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during their meeting in Lviv

“Growing pressure” in Bakhmout

The battle for Bakhmout, an industrial city whose strategic importance is disputed, has been going on since the summer. The city has become a symbol, as it has been the epicenter of fighting between Russians and Ukrainians for months.

In recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced, cutting off three of four Ukrainian supply routes and making the position of the defenders increasingly precarious.

“Wagner’s units have practically surrounded Bakhmout, there is only one road left” to get out, Wagner’s boss, Evguéni Prigojine, said on Friday in a video published by his press service.

In combat gear, Mr. Prigojine called on Mr. Zelensky – who had sworn to defend Bakhmout “as long as possible” – to order the Ukrainian troops to withdraw from the city.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian army general staff indicated that it had repelled more than 150 Russian attacks in the past 24 hours and specified that, in the Bakhmout area, “the enemy is constantly trying to encircle the city ​​”.

The Russian military did not mention the situation in Bakhmut in its report on Saturday, saying only that “active operations” were continuing in the “direction of Donetsk”, where the city is located.

For its part, the British Ministry of Defense stressed on Saturday that the Ukrainian defenders of Bakhmout “were under increasing pressure, with intense fighting in and around the city”.

According to this source, the Russian regular army and the Wagner group have advanced in the northern suburbs of the city, which is now “a salient vulnerable to attacks from three sides”.

“Ukraine is reinforcing the area with elite units and in the last 36 hours two key bridges in Bakhmout have been destroyed, including a vital bridge linking the city to the last main supply route,” the ministry said. British.

10 dead in Zaporizhia

Kyiv also said on Saturday that the head of Ukraine’s special forces, General Viktor Khorenko, inspected units defending Bakhmout.

The city, now largely destroyed, had some 70,000 inhabitants before the Russian offensive. There are now 4,500 left, according to local authorities.

Meanwhile, several officials from Ukrainian regions in the south and east of the country have reported new Russian fire against civilian infrastructure in the past 24 hours.

The Ukrainian emergency services also indicated on Saturday that the toll of the strike against a residential building in Zaporizhia, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, had risen to 10 dead, including a child, and that the search operations continued through the rubble.

The authorities in this region also announced the death of two civilians during a “Russian artillery” strike on Saturday morning on the town of Gulyai Pole.

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