(Kyiv) The Ukrainian army continues to defend Bakhmout on Sunday, with the objective of “buying time” in this city in eastern Ukraine which Moscow has been trying to seize since the summer at the cost of heavy losses .
“The real heroes are the defenders who hold the Eastern Front on their shoulders,” said Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandre Syrsky.
“We must gain time to accumulate reserves and launch a counter-offensive, which is not far away,” he said, quoted by the army press service on Saturday, without giving further details. on this potential assault.
The Ukrainian army said on Sunday that 15 localities in the Bakhmout area had come under Russian fire the day before, a sign of the intensity of the fighting currently in the area.
“Complicated to resist”
“At the start of the war, we didn’t have drones. Missions were more complicated and less effective. But in the summer we started to receive drones and other equipment. Today, we are more efficient,” explains Petro, the pilot of one of three MI-8 attack helicopters which had just carried out a raid against a target near Bakhmout.
Despite this equipment, the British Ministry of Defense reported on Saturday that “in the past four days” the Russian paramilitary group Wagner had “taken control of most of the east” of Bakhmout.
“Ukrainian forces control the west of the city and have demolished key bridges over the river” which crosses it, the ministry said.
Evguéni Prigojine, the boss of the Wagner group, claimed for his part a new progression of his men who are fighting on the front line in Bakhmout.
“It’s the municipal administration building, the administrative center of the city,” he said on Saturday, pointing from the roof of a building to another building, as an illustration of this advanced.
“It’s one kilometer two hundred.” […] “This is the area, there are ongoing fights,” he added in a video released by the press service of his company Concord, unverifiable comments from an independent source for the time being.
The Russians have been trying for several weeks to encircle this city of some 70,000 inhabitants before the conflict and have succeeded in cutting off several important routes for the supply of Ukrainian soldiers.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanichyna conceded that it “is getting complicated for us to resist and deter” the forces in Bakhmout.
“We estimate that the Russian army has already lost 150,000 men since last year in its military offensives on our soil. The human mass of its infantry is a formidable weapon, it seems inexhaustible in volume and in time,” she said.
Strikes on Kherson
While observers doubt Bakhmut’s strategic importance in itself, this battle – the longest since the start of the Russian offensive more than a year ago – has acquired symbolic value, both for Kyiv and for Moscow, which would like to obtain a victory there after several humiliating setbacks.
“The most important thing is to get the right amount of ammunition and to move forward,” Evgeny Prigojine hammered in his video, in open conflict with the Russian military hierarchy, in particular to obtain more ammunition.
He once again publicly attacked Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, ironically calling them “exceptional military leaders”.
“I absolutely, totally support all their efforts”, still mocked the one who continues to criticize the strategy of the hierarchy on the ground.
The Russian army continues its attacks in parallel in other regions.
Ukrainian regional authorities announced on Sunday that Russian strikes on Kherson, a southern city liberated by the Kyiv army in November after several months of occupation, had killed three civilians and injured three civilians the day before.