Russian forces bear down on Ukrainian defenders in Bakhmut

Kiev, Ukraine – The battle for Bakhmut is heating up again, Russian analysts and officials said Friday, as Ukrainian defenders of the devastated city resisted a coordinated three-pronged attack by Kremlin forces and efforts to prevent that the supplies reach them.

“Russia has renewed its assault” on Bakhmut, the UK Ministry of Defense said of recent developments in the eastern Ukrainian city, which has been the scene of the most intense fighting for eight and a half months. long and bloody war.

“Ukrainian defenses still hold the western districts of the city, but have come under particularly intense Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours,” the ministry’s assessment said.

Until recently, a well-known Russian private military contractor, the Wagner Group, spearheaded the campaign to take Bakhmut, making slow, grinding progress at the cost of thousands of lives on both sides. Now, regular Russian units have joined the push.

Military analysts have said that seizing Bakhmut would have tactical military and public relations value for Moscow, although it is unlikely to be decisive in the outcome of the war. The Russian Defense Ministry also noted on Friday the intensity of the fighting in the western areas of the city.

“Wagner’s assault detachments are engaged in high-intensity combat operations to capture areas of western Bakhmut with airborne forces supporting the flanks,” the ministry said in a statement.

He added: “Airborne forces units operating on the flanks are supporting the assault squadrons and stopping the enemy’s attempts to deliver ammunition to the city and bring in reserves.”

Bakhmut is in Donetsk province, one of four provinces illegally annexed by Russia last fall. Moscow controls about half of the province. Bakhmut is a step to seize the remaining half.

Ukrainian officials have said they are buying time by wearing down Russian forces in battle as Kiev prepares a counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy argues that if Russia wins the Battle of Bakhmut, Russian President Vladimir Putin could begin to build international support for a deal that would require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises to end the war.

The Ukrainian president’s office said Friday that fighting in the previous 24 hours in Bakhmut destroyed two kindergartens and residential buildings. The city already resembles a ghost town.

The British Army noted that regular Russian troops have increasingly joined the battle.

“Wagner assault groups continue to make the main advance through the center of the city, while Russian airborne forces have relieved some Wagner units securing the northern and southern flanks of the operation,” the military said British on Twitter.

However, he noted that although the Ukrainian defenders have “significant resupply problems”, their withdrawals from the Bakhmut positions have been done in an orderly manner.

Fighting continued elsewhere in the Donetsk region that includes Bakhmut. Five people were killed when Russian missiles hit the city of Sloviansk on Friday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Earlier, the presidential office said at least three civilians were killed and nine wounded between Thursday and Friday.

___ Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at

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