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War in Ukraine, Day 377 | The capture of Bakhmout necessary for the continuation of the Russian offensive, according to Moscow



(Moscow) The capture of the city of Bakhmout, epicenter of fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine for months, is necessary for the continuation of the Russian offensive, said Tuesday the Russian Minister of Defense.

“This city is an important node (of the lines) of defense of the Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbass. Taking it under control will make it possible to carry out new in-depth offensive operations against the defense of the armed forces of Ukraine, ”said Sergei Shoigu, during a meeting of officials from his ministry, broadcast on television.

Since the summer, Bakhmout has been at the heart of a Russian offensive which has largely ravaged the city, without allowing its occupation so far. In recent weeks, the Russians have made slight advances and now seem to control access to the city to the north, south and east, creating the threat of encirclement.

The troops of the paramilitary group Wagner lead this attack, at the cost of very significant losses, according to its founder, Evguéni Prigojine.

The latter is also in open conflict with the military hierarchy, which he regularly accuses of not delivering enough ammunition to his men engaged on the front line in Bakhmout.

On the Ukrainian side, as speculation of a withdrawal grew, the authorities announced on Monday that they were not giving up on the city and would instead send reinforcements.

Because this battle allows, according to Ukrainian officials, to weaken the Russian forces, which suffered very heavy losses there without gaining a decisive advantage, and this while the city does not have an obvious strategic interest.

At the same time, Ukraine says it is preparing a counter-offensive, while it is soon awaiting the delivery of new Western weapons.

Bakhmout has become highly symbolic, due to efforts made by both sides since the summer to control this city which today has less than 4,000 civilians, according to Kyiv, compared to some 70,000 before the start of the Russian military intervention.

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