Wagner states that Bakhmut is “practically surrounded”; kyiv points out that she resists

The fighting in this strategic city in eastern Ukraine experiences decisive moments this March 3. The founder of the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, assures that his men almost completely surrounded the city and that they closed the last access routes of the Ukrainian Army. However, senior commanders of the kyiv forces indicate that the clashes continue and that they will only leave the city if it is “absolutely necessary”.

Russia has declared to be close to the first big “victory” of the last six months since the invasion of Ukraine.

The city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine and a city reduced to ruins, would find itself almost completely surrounded by the Russian group of Wagner mercenaries, which has been crucial in the drive of the Moscow Army to advance its invasion ambitions, after months of complications on the battlefield.

This is the version of the head of the paramilitary group Yevgeny Prigozhin, who would have urged the Ukrainian president Volodímir Zelenski to order the withdrawal of the Kiev Army to save the lives of its soldiers.

“Units of the Wagner private military company have practically surrounded Bakhmut (…) The pincers are closing,” Prigozhin said in a video recorded from a rooftop and in which he appeared in combat uniform.

The camera then cuts to three captured Ukrainians, an older man with a beard and two minors, asking to go home. From buildings, ‘Reuters’ determined that the images were recorded in Paraskoviivka, a town 7 kilometers north of the center of Bakhmut.

Russian troops and mercenaries would have closed the last access routes to the besieged city on March 3. “There is only one exit route left,” added the head of the Russian paramilitary group, insisting that they tighten the siege of kyiv’s forces, as well as their supply routes.

Taking Bakhmut is strategic, as it would open the way for Moscow to seize the last remaining urban centers in the Donetsk region.

The last hours of the Ukrainian resistance in Bakhmut?

Journalists from the ‘Reuters’ agency located west of Bakhmut said they saw Ukrainian military digging new trenches to take up defensive positions.

In addition, the spokesman for the Eastern Operational Command, Serhiy Cherevaty, said that for now the Ukrainian forces are “heroically” clinging to the city, even as the invading troops intensify their attacks.

“The defenders of the Bakhmut front are heroically defending this segment of the front while exhausting, bleeding and weakening the enemy,” Cherevaty said.

The situation is “critical”, with clashes “24 hours a day”, although the Russian side would be suffering heavy human losses, as Volodimir Nazarenko, deputy commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, told the Ukrainian radio station ‘NV’.

“They do not take into account their losses when trying to take the city by storm. The task of our forces in Bakhmut is to inflict as many losses on the enemy as possible. Every meter of Ukrainian land costs the enemy hundreds of lives,” he said.

Even so, the occupied nation’s military high command stressed that its military requires more weapons to defend Bakhmut: “We need as much ammunition as possible. There are many more Russians than the ammunition we have to destroy them,” Nazarenko cried.

On the other hand, Robert Brovdi, commander of a Ukrainian drone unit active in Bakhmut and called “Madyar”, affirmed in a video posted on social networks that the Army ordered his military bloc to withdraw from the city immediately.

kyiv tries to alleviate the Russian siege, but evaluates its withdrawal. Eastern Operational Command spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty added that the option to withdraw had been on the table, but that such a decision would only be taken if it was “absolutely necessary.”

“As long as the command sees that it makes sense to maintain a certain settlement, they will fight for it (…) If a tactical action has to be taken, it will be done,” Cherevaty stressed.

Scholz will meet with Biden to address the situation in Ukraine

As attacks intensify on the ground, kyiv’s Western allies from abroad are considering backup options.

In this context, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the US president, Joe Biden, meet this Friday in Washington with the aim of “continuing our close harmony” in relation to the Russian aggression.

Both will hold a meeting at the White House, after on March 2, in a session before his country’s Parliament, Scholz ratified Berlin’s commitments on the delivery of arms to Kiev and the training of Ukrainian soldiers in German territory.

However, the leader of the Government of Germany also said that he agrees with Biden that NATO is “not part” of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Since the Russo-Ukrainian conflict began more than a year ago, the West has insisted on not directly intervening on the ground, amid fears it would escalate the fury of the Kremlin and spark a larger war involving more countries. But the growing arms support for the Ukrainian defenses has been seen in recent days by Vladimir Putin as a direct threat.

FILE-US President Joe Biden holds a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House in Washington, United States, on February 7, 2022.
FILE-US President Joe Biden holds a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House in Washington, United States, on February 7, 2022. © Leah Millis / Reuters

Although the United States and NATO member countries recently approved new multi-billion-dollar outlays of military assistance, including the delivery of powerful German-made Leopard2 and American-made Abrams tanks, that aid is not expected to find its way into the hands of the Ukrainian defenses before spring or summer.

Biden also pointed out last February that for now the allies rule out sending combat aircraft to kyiv, such as the F-16 fighters, which Zelenski urges be delivered to his Army.

As the US president pointed out on February 25, Ukraine “does not need now” these aircraft, but this is also another bet to curb a greater anger from the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, the invaded nation’s Army is holding out, in many cases with outdated Soviet-era weaponry, as a France24 team moving to Bakhmut showed.

With Reuters and local media

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Written by Editor TLN

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