On Friday, the Russian army intensified its siege of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, in an effort to encircle and capture it completely.
According to Reuters, Bakhmut has already been reduced to ruins, with only one road remaining open for Ukrainian troops. The head of Russia’s Wagner private army has claimed that this road is now also under attack.
To strengthen the defense capacity of its frontline forces, Ukraine’s ground forces commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited Bakhmut on Friday for briefings with local commanders.
However, parts of some units have already been ordered to rotate to more secure positions, as the situation has been described as “a slaughterhouse on both sides” by Denys Yaroslavskyi, commander of a Ukrainian army unit at Bakhmut.
A Russian victory in Bakhmut, a city that had a pre-war population of about 70,000 and is known for its salt and gypsum mines, would be a major achievement in the costly winter offensive. This offensive comes after Russia called up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.
Moscow has stated that capturing Bakhmut would be a stepping stone to completing the capture of the Donbas industrial region, which is one of its key objectives.
While Ukrainian President Zelenskyy visited wounded soldiers at a military hospital in Lviv, he did not provide any details about the fighting in Bakhmut during an evening video address. However, he did express gratitude to troops for their bravery and steadfastness in defending the city.
Ukraine claims that Bakhmut has little strategic value and that the significant casualties that Russia has suffered in its attempts to take the city could shape the course of the conflict.
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