Ukraine says it is sending reinforcements to Bakhmut
Ukraine has sent reinforcements to Bakhmut, a senior Ukrainian official said on Wednesday, signaling the intensity of fighting in a town that has become a melting pot in the east of the country as Russian forces gradually tighten their grip.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, the official, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, did not specify how many troops were being sent or for what purpose, leaving multiple possibilities open. The reinforcements could be needed in the event of a Ukrainian withdrawal, or they could be part of an effort to continue defending Bakhmut. kyiv may seek to keep Russian forces tied up there so they cannot redeploy to other battles.
Ukrainian soldiers resisted Bakhmut for months, and kyiv used their resistance as a symbol of the country’s wider defiance a year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion. But in recent weeks Russian forces, including large numbers of newly mobilized recruits, have been rushed to the eastern front line, helping Moscow seize villages and towns around Bakhmut and encircle the city. on three sides.
President Volodymyr Zelensky used the slogan “Hold Bakhmut”, a mantra that has become popular in Ukraine. But amid reports that fighting has broken out in parts of the city itself, the language he used to describe the battle has changed.
“The most difficult situation remains Bakhmut and the battles that are important for the defense of the city,” Zelensky said in his late-night address on Tuesday, the second day in a row he spoke about the problems facing defenders of the city. city. “The intensity of the fighting is only increasing.”
On Monday, he said Russian forces were destroying anything that could harbor forces fighting to defend the city.
Much of the fighting in and around Bakhmut has been carried out by troops from the Wagner Group, a mercenary force whose leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, has close ties to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr Prigozhin said in a broadcast audio message on Wednesday that there was no sign that Ukrainian forces were withdrawing from the town. Moscow turned its attention to capturing Bakhmut this summer after taking two towns in the nearby Luhansk region, but it is now the longest battle of the full-scale war and both sides have suffered heavy losses.
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