Kyiv/Moscow, Mar 13 (EFE).- The battle for Bakhmut, the longest and bloodiest of the war in Ukraine so far, is claiming more lives every day, but after months of fighting it is still impossible to say which side will prevail.
“In less than a week – since March 6 – in the Bakhmut sector alone (our men) managed to liquidate more than 1,100 enemy soldiers, irreparable losses for Russia,” Ukrainian president Volodymir Zelensky said Monday in his daily address, adding that soldiers defending the stronghold in the eastern Donetsk region have inflicted “at least 1,500 casualties” on Russia.
Moscow, meanwhile, said in a daily defense report that about 400 Ukrainian fighters were eliminated on different fronts during offensive operations over the past day.
“The situation around Bakhmut is still difficult,” commander of the Ukrainian Land Army, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi.
Wagner Group assault units “are advancing from various directions, trying to break through our defenses and move toward the center” of the city, he said on Telegram.
But he added that Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut were “inflicting significant losses on the enemy” and that all attempts by the Russians to capture the city “are repelled by artillery, tanks and other weapons.”
The head of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Monday the situation in Bakhmut was “very difficult”, adding that Ukraine fights “for every meter”.
“The closer we get to the center of the city, the more bloody the fighting is,” Prigozhin was quoted as saying by his press service.
Over the weekend fighters from the Russian paramilitary group reportedly occupied favorable positions in an industrial zone northwest of Bakhmut, according to Andrey Marochko, a representative of the Russian-imposed authorities in Lugansk.
Prigozhin reported that his units had finally received some of the ammunition they had requested, with the mercenary group receiving 27 truckloads this weekend.
Meanwhile, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the Russian Ministry of Defense was “prioritizing eliminating Wagner on the battlefields in Bakhmut” to weaken Prigozhin and prevent him from having more influence over the Kremlin, efforts which were “likely slowing down the rate of advance in the area.”
Ukraine’s fierce resistance in the strategic eastern city has made it the longest battle of the war, longer than the battles for Kharkiv (February-September 2002), Severodonetsk (February and June 2022) and Mariupol (February-May 2022).
While the Ukrainians managed to force the Russians to withdraw from Kharkiv, Severodonetsk and Mariupol eventually fell to the invading troops. EFE