BAKMUTS, UKRAINE (AP) — Artillery strikes into cities in eastern Ukraine to seize Bakhmut, which remained in Ukrainian hands during the eight-month war, despite Moscow’s goal of capturing the entire Donbass region. Russian soldiers are slowly approaching. borders with Russia.
during much of the battle The battle around Bakhmut, which unfolded last month in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, was the focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s The desire to make visible gains after weeks of apparent setbacks in Ukraine.
take bahmut Cut Ukrainian supply lines and open a route for Russian troops to advance towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, the main Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk Oblast. dominate some.
Before invading Ukraine, Putin recognized the independence of the Russian-backed separatist self-proclaimed republic. Last month, he illegally annexed Donetsk, Luhansk and two other provinces occupied or nearly occupied by Russian forces.
Russia hit Bakhmut with a rocket for more than 5 months.The ground attack accelerated after his troops forced the Ukrainians to withdraw from Luhansk in July. The line of communication is now on the outskirts of the city. Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian shadow military company, are reported to be leading the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation this week that Russia’s long-running push against Bakhmut exposed Moscow’s “madness.”
“Every day, for months, they have been killing people there and concentrating the greatest force of artillery fire there,” Zelensky said.
At least three people were killed in the shelling between Wednesday and Thursday, local officials said.
Ukrainian forces fired mortars and artillery to repel Russian forces within 5 kilometers (3 miles) by early Thursday morning, according to the War Research Institute, a Washington think tank.
Russia needs a victory in Bakhmut given that it has lost control of a large swath of the northeast region of Kharkov following last month’s Ukrainian counterattack and deteriorating position in Kherson. The area is one of the first he occupied by Russian forces after the February 24th invasion of Ukraine.
“Russian suffering will be defeated on all sides. We need it.London-based defense and security think tank.
The Wagner Group played a key role in the war, and human rights groups have accused Wagner Group soldiers of committing atrocities. Their placement around Bakhmut reflects the city’s strategic importance to Moscow. However, according to Ramani, it is unclear whether the mercenaries are making much tangible profit.
“We see situations where Wagner groups are very effective in instilling fear in the local population, but not so effective in actually capturing and holding territory,” he said. At best, they are heading towards Bakmut at a kilometer (0.6 miles) a week, he said.
While in the city this week, Associated Press journalists saw burnt-out cars, destroyed buildings and people struggling to survive amid a cacophony of constant artillery fire. They have no access to water or water, and residents are worried about heating their homes as temperatures drop.
“We hoped that this war would end or that conditions would be created for us to live in. But since last month things have been terrible,” says resident Leonid Tarasov. said.
Few shops are open. AP saw people cooking on the streets with firewood and drawing water from wells.
About 90% of Bakhmut’s pre-war population of about 73,000 have left the city, according to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko.
Roman Zhirenkov, a volunteer with the local aid group Vostok-SOS, said some of those asked to evacuate from areas too dangerous for volunteers and soldiers to reach due to the fighting had remained in recent days. ing.
Others feel trapped.
“People left their homes to live with their children, brothers and sisters. “But we have nowhere to go. That’s why we’re here.”
Mednick reported from Kyiv, Ukraine
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