Ukraine: the Russian army is still “trying” to surround Bakhmout, according to kyiv
Bakhmout is holding out for now. In its daily report, the Ukrainian General Staff said that “more than 130 enemy attacks” had been hindered in the past 24 hours, in several sectors of the front, including Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmout and Avdiivka.
“The enemy continues its attempts to encircle the city of Bakhmout,” he continued, without further details. Villages north and west of Bakhmout were attacked, said Saturday on CNN Serhii Tcherevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Earlier in the day, he said the situation in Bakhmout was “difficult but under control”. The battle for Bakhmout, an industrial city whose strategic importance is disputed, has been going on since the summer. The city has become a symbol because it is at heart of the fighting between Russians and Ukrainians for months.
The city is “virtually surrounded” according to Wagner
The paramilitary group Wagner, on the front line in Bakhmout, assured Friday that it had “virtually surrounded” the city and called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to order the withdrawal of his troops. SATURDAY, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW)a group of American experts, acknowledged that Russian forces had captured positions in Bakhmout that could allow them to bypass some Ukrainian defenses.
“The Russians could try to encircle the Ukrainian forces in Bakhmout, but the Ukrainian command gave the signal that it preferred to withdraw rather than risk an encirclement”, estimates this source. This Sunday, the pro-Russian separatist army of Donetsk, auxiliaries to the Russian forces, published a video purporting to show Wagner fighters in the northern suburb of Bakhmout, claiming that the small railway station of Stoupky, north of the city, had been conquered.
13 dead in Zaporizhia
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected an advanced command post in Ukraine on Saturday, in the “Donetsk-South” area, without specifying the exact location or the date of this visit. This area of operations concerns the sector of the town of Vougledar, where the Russian army has carried out offensives in recent weeks, without much success.
According to the American think tank ISW, this visit was “obviously aimed at estimating the extent of the losses around Vougledar and the possibility of continuing an offensive in this direction”. According to images released by the Russian army on Saturday, Sergei Shoigu also attended a meeting with senior Russian officers in charge of the offensive in Ukraine, including the Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov.
Deadly shots have also been reported in the past 24 hours against residential areas, killing at least five people on the Ukrainian side, according to Ukrainian authorities. According to a new report from the Ukrainian emergency services, the strike against a residential building in Zaporijjia, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, left 13 dead, including a child.
On the diplomatic front, Volodymyr Zelensky received on Saturday in Lviv, western Ukraine, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. Both said they hoped for the opening of negotiations this year for Ukraine to join the European Union.
” Held ostage “
On Saturday, Zelensky also returned to the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine, a year after its capture by Russian forces. The Ukrainian president denounced “the hostage taking” of the power station, the largest in Europe, and called on the West to sanction the Russian nuclear industry.
In an interview with AFP, the exiled mayor of the city of Energodar, where the plant is located, claimed that the latter was now shut down and had been de facto transformed into a “military base” where the Russian forces are sheltering. Another sign of Western support for kyiv, Joe Biden announced on Friday a new military aid to Ukraine of 400 million dollars.
Washington has included munitions in this aid, notably for the Himars rocket system, which Ukrainian forces have used with devastating effect on Russian troops and logistics lines.