Zelensky visited the battleground city of Bakhmut, to show Ukraine’s resolve.
In perhaps his boldest front-line visit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 300 days ago, President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the devastated city of Bakhmut on Tuesday morning to rally troops there and show his support. despite the Russian invasion.
His unannounced visit comes just hours after President Vladimir V. Putin acknowledged that his war might not go as planned, citing the situation in Russian-controlled regions. in Ukraine is “extremely difficult”.
The battle for Bakhmut, in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, became one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. As losses on both sides increased, Ukraine’s capture of the devastated city took on a symbolic meaning far beyond its military significance. There are bumper stickers, artwork and t-shirts in stores across Ukraine with the slogan: “Bakhmut Holds”.
Despite months of Russian bombardment and attacks by formations from the Wagner Corporation, a notorious paramilitary organization that helped lead the Kremlin’s war effort in parts of Ukraine, the city remains under Ukrainian control.
In Bakhmut, Mr. Zelensky praised the bravery of soldiers fighting in harsh conditions.
“It seems to me that the Bakhmut heroes should get what everyone else,” Zelensky said, according to Freedom TV, a Ukrainian network that reported on the trip. “I pray for their children, their families – that everything is fine with them, that they have warmth, that they are healthy.”
Mr. Zelensky has spoken many times of that “very difficult” situation in parts of the Donbas, with the fighting around Bakhmut particularly fierce. He said in a recent speech that Russian forces had “destroyed” Bakhmut, turning the city once home to 70,000 people to “ruin”.
On previous trips to the front, Mr Zelensky had raised Ukraine’s blue and yellow flags after Russian occupying forces were driven out of cities including Izium to the northeast and Kherson to the southwest. . Zelensky’s visit to Bakhmut comes as the Ukrainian military says it has pushed Russian troops out of several positions on the edge of the city, although the situation there is far from stable.
The Ukrainian forces holding Bakhmut are a combination of multiple units, including the 93rd Mechanized Brigade and the 58th Motorized Infantry Brigade, which have been worn down by relentless Russian attacks. Other units relocated from southern Ukraine have arrived in recent weeks to bolster the city’s defenses.
While Russian forces were digging deeper and establishing more fortified defensive positions on most of the 600-mile front, they continued to attack Bakhmut from many directions. They suffered heavy casualties and there were reports of low morale and disorder in the Russian military ranks, with convicts recruited to fight in clashes with other units.
The British military’s defense intelligence agency said on Monday that Russian recruits in eastern Ukraine were “likely to be threatened with immediate execution” if they disobeyed orders to attack British positions. Ukraine.