Fall of Bakhmut would not mean Russia is winning: Pentagon | News of war between Russia and Ukraine
Over the past week fighting near Bakhmut has escalated, with Russian forces attacking from almost all sides.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that the war-torn eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is of symbolic, rather than operational, importance to Russia, and that its capture would not signal that Moscow has moved back in its year-long war effort.
Over the past week, fighting near Bakhmut has intensified, with Russian forces attacking from almost all sides.
“I think it’s more of a symbolic value than a strategic and operational value,” Austin told reporters Monday while visiting Jordan, adding that he would not predict the if or when the Russian forces would take Bakhmut.
“The fall of Bakhmut does not necessarily mean that the Russians have turned the tide of this fight,” Austin said.
If Russia captures the city with a pre-war population of around 70,000, Moscow would be hailing its first major victory in a costly winter offensive, having called in hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.
But on Monday, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which is leading the longest battle of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, complained that his forces were still underarmed, blaming “betrayal”.
Kremlin-ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose troops have been fighting for months to capture Bakhmut, has been embroiled in a power struggle with the defense ministry accused of withholding supplies.
“For now, we are trying to find out the reason: is it just ordinary bureaucracy or betrayal,” Prigozhin, referring to the lack of weapons, said on his news channel Telegram Sunday.
“If Wagner returns from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse,” Prigozhin said. “The situation will not be sweet for all forms of military defense of Russian interests.”
‘Hell Like’ Situation
At the same time, Volodymyr Nazarenko, commander of Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut, said that there was no order to retreat and “the defense is holding” in a bad situation.
“The situation in and around Bakhmut is very much like hell, as it is in the entire east,” Nazarenko said in a video posted on Telegram.
The Ukrainian military said late on Sunday that Russian forces were trying to advance on Bakhmut, shaking the city and nearby settlements in Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Kurdyumivka and Orikhovo-Vasylivka.
To the north, Russian troops advanced to the town of Bilohorivka, just inside the Luhansk region, and blockaded several towns in the direction of Kupiansk and Lyman, the Ukrainian military said.
Further south, he said, Russian forces prepared for an attack in the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions.