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Bakhmut’s fall would not mean Russia is winning: Pentagon


Over the past week, fighting near Bakhmut has intensified, with Russian troops attacking from almost all sides.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the war-torn eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is important to Russia symbolically, rather than operationally, and that its capture would not mean Moscow regains momentum in its years-long war effort.

Over the past week, fighting near Bakhmut has intensified, with Russian troops attacking from almost all sides.

“I think it’s more of a symbolic value than a strategic and operational one,” Austin told reporters on Monday during a visit to Jordan, adding that he would not predict if or when Bakhmut would be taken by Russian forces.

“The fall of Bakhmut does not necessarily mean that the Russians have turned the tide of this battle,” Austin added.

Ukrainian soldiers ride atop a tank outside the frontline town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

If Russia captured the city with a pre-war population of about 70,000, Moscow would celebrate its first major victory in a costly winter offensive after calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.

However, on Monday, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which is leading the longest battle of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, complained that his troops are still out of ammunition, possibly blaming “treason”.

Kremlin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose recruits have been fighting for months to take Bakhmut, has been locked in a power struggle with the defense ministry, accusing them of withholding supplies.

“For now, we are trying to find out the reason: is it ordinary bureaucracy or betrayal,” Prigozhin said on his Telegram press service on Sunday, referring to the absence of ammunition.

“If Wagner withdraws from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse,” said Prigozhin. “The situation will not be favorable for all military formations protecting Russian interests.”

Hell like situation

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Nazarenko, a commander of Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut, said no order to retreat had been given and that “the defenses are holding up” in appalling conditions.

“The situation in Bakhmut and around it is very dire, just like on the entire eastern front,” Nazarenko said in a video posted to Telegram.

The Ukrainian army said late Sunday that Russian troops were trying to advance on Bakhmut, shelling the city and nearby settlements of Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Kurdyumivka and Orikhovo-Vasylivka.

In the north, Russian troops advanced to the town of Bilohorivka, just inside the Luhansk region, and shelled several settlements in the direction of Kupiansk and Lyman, the Ukrainian military said.

Further south, Russian forces were preparing for an offensive in the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions.


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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