The battle for Bakhmut continues with the Russian’s making gains…..
Rocket attack’s against Ukraine cities continue also…..
Ukraine insisted on Saturday that its forces were fending off relentless Russian attacks in Bakhmut, even as Western analysts said that Moscow’s forces had captured most of the embattled city’s east and established a new front line cutting through its center.
Gradual Russian advances and a high number of Ukrainian casualties have fueled talk of a retreat from Bakhmut, a city in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that has been devastated by months of fighting. But Ukrainian officials say that Russian losses in Bakhmut are worse than their own, and they have signaled that they will pursue a strategy of bleeding the Russian Army before a planned Ukrainian counterattack.
Despite the Ukrainian military’s assertion that it was holding on in Bakhmut, it was becoming increasingly clear that its grip on the city was tenuous and that Russian forces were making new gains. Although Bakhmut’s strategic value is debatable, Moscow is looking for a victory after a series of setbacks.
Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, said this past week that his fighters had seized the eastern half of Bakhmut — an assertion that Ukraine’s military rejected at the time, saying that its soldiers were still fighting there….
Both Ukrainian and Russian officials have suggested that the fall of Bakhmut could help pave the way for Moscow’s forces to make a broader push in eastern Ukraine. With Ukraine expected to launch its own offensive in the coming weeks, General Syrsky made clear on Saturday that defending Bakhmut was key to those efforts.
“It is necessary to gain time to accumulate reserves and start the spring counteroffensive, which is not far off,” he said in the statement.
That campaign will probably focus on the south, according to military analysts and Ukrainian officials, who have suggested that Ukraine may try to approach the Russian-held port of Melitopol and drive a wedge between Moscow’s forces in the Crimean Peninsula and those in eastern Ukraine.
In the meantime, rather than withdraw from Bakhmut as had been rumored, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Ukraine will send reinforcements…..
Farther from the front lines, the aftermath of a missile attack left regions of Ukraine without power into Saturday. Technicians were rushing to restore power in affected areas. By afternoon, electricity had come back on in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Ukrainian forces are “doing everything possible” to fend off a new Russian push to break through defense lines, according to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview published Saturday by an Italian newspaper that Ukrainian troops were “exceeding” their goals to reduce Russia’s “capable personnel as much as possible” and to bog them down in “wearisome battles.”
- Energy workers were restoring power after Thursday’s missile barrage hit critical infrastructure. Electricity utility Energoatom said on Telegram that electricity had been restored in Kyiv on Saturday afternoon. The regional governor of Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast, said Saturday morning that all electricity had been restored to critical infrastructure.
- Kyiv has ordered the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to leave a monastery where its headquarters is located. Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram that the church — which recently declared independence from the pro-war Moscow Patriarch — “violated the terms of the agreement regarding the use of state property.” The church said in a Facebook post that Kyiv was “obviously biased.” Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, appealed to Pope Francis on Saturday to help “prevent the forced closure of the monastery,” reads a statement on the church’s website.
- Iran plans to buy fighter jets from Russia, Iranian state media reported, according to Reuters — another step in an alliance that has brought Iranian-made drones to Russian forces in Ukraine. In November, Russia reached an agreement with Iran to manufacture drones in Russia.
- Washington accused Moscow of trying to destabilize Moldova’s government to eventually produce a pro-Kremlin administration. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a Friday briefing that Russian actors were “seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection,” but he added that the United States does not see an immediate military threat to Moldova.
- Britain, in a letter, has urged sponsors to pressure the International Olympic Committee over its proposal to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete at the Games next year in Paris, according to the BBC.
- Bakhmut has become a “killing zone,” the British Ministry of Defense said Saturday. It said Russia’s Wagner private military forces took control of most of eastern Bakhmut in recent days, while Ukrainian forces held its western parts. Ukrainian troops were still defending the area Saturday night, Zelensky said in his nightly address.
- Russian strikes killed three people in Kherson on Saturday, Zelensky said. He also mentioned attacks in Zaporizhzhia, where the regional government reported Russian shelling that targeted a city center for people who’d fled their besieged homes.
- More than 40 missiles have hit Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second-largest city — since the start of 2023, Zelensky said during his nightly address Saturday. “Only since the beginning of this year — in less than two and a half months — over forty enemy missiles have already struck Kharkiv,” Zelensky said.
- Authorities commemorated Ukraine’s youngest battalion commander, who was killed near the front line in Bakhmut. Zelensky attended a ceremony for Jr. Lt. Dmytro “da Vinci” Kotsiubailo, who had fought separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014….
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