Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday evening in a talk that Ukrainian forces control all sectors of the front.
His speech came hours after Ukraine’s military leadership announced that Russian forces were advancing near the country’s main eastern city of Bakhmut, which has been targeted by pro-Muscovite forces in massive attacks.
Russian forces launched relentless assaults on Bakhmut on Wednesday, seeking to encircle the small town in eastern Ukraine and claiming their first major victory in more than six months after some of the bloodiest battles of the war.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine wrote on Wednesday evening in a post on Facebook: “The enemy continues to advance. The attack on the city of Pakhmut continues.”
For his part, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private military group, said the Ukrainians were showing “valiant resistance” in their attempt to hold on to the city at any cost.
L’area around Bakhmut is one of the areas on the front in which Russia made clear gains during a winter offensive that saw what both sides described as the bloodiest fighting of the war.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner group spearheaded the Russian offensive at Bakhmut, said in an audio message about social media that the Ukrainian army was throwing more reservists into the battle, “trying to hold the city with all its might”.
Prigozhin added, “Tens of thousands of Ukrainian army fighters are showing courageous resistance. The battles are getting bloodier every day.”
After being expelled from some territories in the second half of 2022, Russian forces have received reinforcements with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of reservists called up since September.
Kiev, for its part, has remained on the defensive for the past three months, hoping the fighting will deplete the attacking Russian forces before Ukraine launches a counteroffensive. quest’year with new weapons, including tanks promised by the West.
Russia says Bakhmut’s control would pave the way for control of the rest of the Donbass industrial region surrounding Bakhmut, a major target of the war. For its part, Kiev says the destroyed city has limited strategic value, but the losses were so heavy that they affected the future course of the war.