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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces needed a victory in Bakhmut to mobilize the sentiments of his people, adding that the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut paves the way for the Russians to occupy other cities, according to CNN.
‘Tactical and essential’
He underlined that Russia wants to control Sloviansk and Kramatorsk after Bakhmut, stressing that the presence of Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut is tactical and necessary.
Zelensky’s statements come after the founder of the Wagner Group, considered the spearhead of the fighting on the fronts in the city of Bakhmut in Dsk, eastern Ukraine, revealed that the number of Ukrainian forces in the city fluctuates between 12 and 20,000 military personnel, and that fierce battles are currently taking place.
“Planning Dsk Depth”
Prigozhin’s comments come after Shoigu stressed earlier in the day that control of Bakhmut’s industrial region is the key to further offensive Russia in the Dsk region.
“This city forms an important defense center for Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region,” he told a meeting of military officials televised on state television, “its control will allow for further attacks in deep within the lines of defense of the Ukrainian forces”.
He also confirmed that Ukrainian losses are heavy, amounting to nearly 11,000 dead in February.
Interestingly, the Russians managed to encircle Bakhmut from 3 sides and took control of parts of the city, although Ukrainian forces are still stationed there, after Zelenskyi refused to withdraw in light of a unanimous decision with the military leaders.