(Kyiv) The Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said his troops had managed to “stabilize” the situation around Bakhmout, the epicenter for eight months of fighting against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

This city, which had around 70,000 inhabitants before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022 but is now deserted by civilians, is the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle since the outbreak of the war. .

The “most difficult” situation on the front line is “around Bakhmout”, Valery Zaluzhny said late Friday evening in a phone call with Britain’s Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the defense forces, we manage to stabilize the situation,” Zaluzhny wrote on Facebook.

Russian forces sometimes report hard-won territory around the city, which has become more of a symbol than a strategic site from a purely military point of view as the fighting continues.

“This is most likely primarily the result of extreme attrition of Russian forces,” the British said in a statement, noting that Kyiv had also “suffered heavy casualties.”

Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrsky said Thursday on Telegram that a counter-offensive could “very soon” be launched against “exhausted” Russian forces near Bakhmout.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Ukrainian troops near the Bakhmut frontline on Wednesday.

Yevgeny Prigojine, boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner whose men are on the front line in this battle, said Monday that his forces controlled about 70% of the city.

In recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced north and south of Bakhmut, cutting off several Ukrainian supply routes.