Russian forces are trying to enter Bakhmut to take control of the city, before the tanks that the West has pledged to support Ukraine will reach Kyiv in a few months.
In recent days, Russian forces have pushed deeper into Bakhmut, taking house by house in an attempt to take control of the eastern city, which Moscow sees as its main immediate objective.
The Ukrainian commanders said that the wave of Russian attacks was increasing and also suffered heavy losses, and emphasized that they would stand side by side and fight for the city of Bakhmut.
Moscow’s deeper penetration into Bakhmut leaves Kyiv with a difficult choice between continuing the bloody street fighting or retreating to preserve its forces.
The Ukrainian army is gradually retreating to the higher and easier-to-defend areas in the west determined to defend Bakhmut and wait to receive more heavy weapons and aid from the West.
Ukrainian forces say Bakhmut is a place of little strategic value. But it holds great symbolic significance, as Moscow seeks to expand its control in the Donbas region.
Moscow has unleashed Wagner “mercenaries” on the battlefield in Bakhmut and has recently deployed additional reserves, mobilized from last year’s mobilization, in an attempt to take control of the city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city in December 2022 and called it “Bakhmut Fortress”. He warned Ukraine would stand firm and defeat the Russians there.
“The more Russia loses in the war in Donbas, the less likely it is to win the whole campaign,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on January 26. “We know what the Russians are planning. We will fight back.”
This Russian strategy was promoted as the war was about to mark exactly one year of the outbreak.
Ukraine took the initiative in the fall of 2022 with a blitzkrieg in the northeast and an assault in the south aimed at recapturing much of the territory. But Moscow hastened to send tens of thousands of conscripts and paramilitary forces to the front lines.
Russia is looking for a breakthrough here before Kyiv’s Western allies deliver tanks to Ukraine, weapons that Kiev says will help it cut through Russia’s defenses and regain control of parts of the country. more territory.
The United States and its European allies have committed to providing Ukraine with dozens of armored vehicles, including more powerful main battle tanks than older models supplied by Russia.
A soldier from the Soviet-era T-72 tank unit in Bakhmut said Ukraine desperately needed that help. “Russian forces already control a lot of positions, so the fight is getting harder and harder. We can hold the city, but only with help,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russia seems to be relying on the effectiveness of the repeated attacks of the past few days.
Ukraine’s army lieutenant Oleksandr Matviyenko, commander of a reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit in Bakhmut, said that, since Russia mobilized about 300,000 reservists, they have seemingly human resources. Endless to unleash on the battlefield.
“We repelled a group of attackers, but then wave after wave came,” Matviyenko said.
Britain said Ukrainian forces could hold Bakhmut as long as their supply lines from the west remained secure. He said bridges and supply roads from Chasiv Yar to Bakhmut had not been bombarded by Russian fire so far.
The commander of a Ukrainian artillery unit stationed on a hill overlooking the city said he had to replace the barrel of a used Soviet-era gun after firing 1,500 rounds at Russian positions this month. via. If Moscow moves deeper into Bakhmut, he said, “the Russians will be crushed like cheese”.
Bakhmut suffered heavy damage
Russia in recent weeks has occupied Klishchiivka to the south and Soledar to the north and is trying to encircle Bakhmut from three directions.
The city is constantly bombarded by Russian rockets and artillery shells daily, and small arms fighting can be heard from the east, where Ukrainian and Russian units face off on parallel streets.
The city center has become a ghost town. The only vehicles moving on the street were dusty trucks carrying troops. Inscriptions scrawled on the sides of the abandoned building read “Bakhmut belongs to Ukraine”.
At a children’s hospital in the west of the city, is currently treating Ukrainian soldiers from shock waves of shelling to seriously wounded soldiers, who are now lying on the ground.
A hospital employee said earlier this week that he had only slept for two hours a day and was about to become unbearable. Two days later, Russia shelled the hospital, forcing doctors and patients to evacuate for the second time in a month.
To the south, Ukrainian forces on January 27 said they had repelled Russian attacks on Vuhledar and several other villages in the eastern Donetsk region in the previous 24 hours.
Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern military district, said that fierce fighting had occurred in Vuhledar, but Russia had not been able to penetrate Ukraine’s defenses.
Russia also carried out 148 attacks along the front line with Ukrainian forces in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia in the past day with tanks, missiles, and artillery, the regional military administration said.
The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed to have carried out multiple strikes in both Zaporizhzhia and Vuhledar, where Moscow said it carried out attacks on Ukraine’s 72nd Brigade and shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet.
“The situation on the front lines, especially in the Donetsk region, which is close to Bakhmut and Vuhledar, is very tense,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on January 27.
“The enemy not only attacked our positions, but they also deliberately destroyed the surrounding cities and villages with artillery and rockets. The Russian side has no shortage of means of destruction. It can only stop them. by force,” he added.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on January 27 extended economic sanctions against Russia for the next six months. The decision affects a range of sanctions to be imposed in 2022, from financial sanctions against Russian banks to import and export bans.
Western countries are also rushing to gather Leopard 2 tanks from a series of European countries, after Germany and the US pledged to send tanks to Ukraine. The first deliveries are expected to arrive in Ukraine within the next three months.
However, Russian officials claim these tanks will “not change the course of the battlefield” and will only escalate tensions.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said that its forces had carried out a series of attacks in the past days against Ukrainian military and infrastructure targets that had disrupted arms shipments, including weapons from NATO countries, delivered to the fronts.