(Kyiv) Ukraine said on Thursday that it expects “very soon to take advantage” of Russian fatigue in Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting in the east of the country and where Russian forces, with the paramilitary group Wagner in the front line, suffered significant losses.
“ The aggressor does not despair of taking Bakhmout at all costs, despite the losses in men and material ”, indicated on Telegram the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandre Syrsky.
The Russian troops mobilized en masse in and around Bakhmout “are losing considerable strength and are getting exhausted”, he assured.
“Very soon we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balaklya and Kupiansk,” he said, citing previous Ukrainian military victories.
General Syrsky once again praised “ the superhuman courage and the superhuman bravery ” of the Ukrainian soldiers in the face of the Russian invasion.
These remarks come the day after President Volodymyr Zelensky’s second visit in three months to this area of intense fighting, where he appeared “ on the front line ” alongside the Ukrainian soldiers.
The Russian army, with the paramilitary group Wagner, now encircles Bakhmout from the north, east and south, making it difficult for soldiers from Kyiv to get supplies.
But they resist, at the cost of heavy losses also on the Ukrainian side, a strategy assumed by the military command of Kyiv which aims at a war of attrition, wearing out the Russians, before a Ukrainian counter-offensive expected soon.
If the strategic importance of the city of Bakhmout itself is disputed by experts, Moscow would like to announce a military victory, after several humiliating setbacks last summer and autumn which prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to mobilize several hundred thousands of reservists, therefore civilians, and then to appoint a new commander responsible for operations in Ukraine.
The city of Bakhmout, which had 70,000 inhabitants before the Russian invasion launched in February 2022, is now completely destroyed and almost entirely emptied of its civilian population.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the partially Russian-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Thursday, the day after a trip to the eastern front.
In particular, he went, according to images from the presidency, to Possad-Pokrovské, a locality which suffered significant destruction and was in the hands of the Russian army until its withdrawal in the fall of 2022.
Mr. Zelensky also visited a power station damaged during the wave of strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities throughout the winter.
According to the Telegram account of the presidency, this trip focused on reconstruction in the Kherson region and the head of state chaired a meeting there on the subject.
Russia occupied a large part of the Kherson region, including its eponymous capital, from the start of its invasion in February 2022.
A Ukrainian counter-offensive, however, forced Russian troops to withdraw from the northern part and retreat last November to the other side of the Dnieper, the great local river.
A humiliating setback for the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin having claimed the annexation of the entire region a few weeks earlier.
Now the liberated zone, a key agricultural region for Ukraine, and in particular the city of Kherson are daily targets of Russian strikes.
On Wednesday, Mr. Zelensky had traveled near the front in the vicinity of Bakhmout, the epicenter for months of fighting in the east, then in the Kharkiv region in the northeast.