UK says Russia ‘largely stalled’ in Bakhmut, shifting focus


KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s top military commander said Saturday that his forces were pushing back against Russian troops in the long, grinding battle for the town of Bakhmut, and British military intelligence says Russia appears to be moving strategically defense in eastern Ukraine. .

“The Bakhmut direction is the most difficult. Thanks to the titanic efforts of the defense forces, the situation is being stabilized,” said General Valerii Zaluzhnyi in a post on Telegram summarizing a telephone call with Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of the British defense staff.

The seven-month fight for Bakhmut, where Russian forces are closed in on three sides, is the longest battle of the war, with Russia deploying regular soldiers and mercenary fighters of the Wagner Group.

Russian forces need to pass through Bakhmut to push deeper into parts of the eastern Donbas region, although Western officials say taking the city would have a limited impact on the course of the war.

The British Ministry of Defense said in its latest information update that “the Russian attack on the Donbas town of Bakhmut has come to a complete halt. This is probably mainly due to the extreme conviction of the Russian force.”

Russia is likely to shift its focus towards two other sectors, which “suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design after uncertain results from its efforts to conduct a general offensive since January,” the UK ministry wrote on Twitter.

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin of comrade Andrii Neshodovskiy during a funeral ceremony at the cemetery in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

However, the Ukrainian military warned that a change in strategy was not yet clear and that Bakhmut remained Russia’s main point of attack. A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern forces, Serhii Cherevaty, said Russian forces were still pounding the town with artillery and airstrikes, although the number of daily casualties had dropped to less than 20, down from 30 to 50 not long ago. since then.

“Next week will tell,” Cherevaty said on Ukrainian television.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk province, where Bakhmut is located, said one civilian was killed in Friday’s fighting and another civilian was killed elsewhere in the province. Russian rockets hit the town of Kramatorsk during the night, but did not hurt, Kyrylenko said.

On Saturday, Russian artillery hit Khasiv Yar, a city west of Bakhmut, and Toretsk to the south, killing two civilians, Ukraine’s presidential office said.

Two people were killed and six people were injured in the Russian fire in the southern Kherson region, the local administration said.

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