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February 26, 2023 Russia-Ukraine information

A Ukrainian Military serviceman waits for an order close to Bakhmut, on Thursday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Pictures)

There’s one factor that Russian and Ukrainian accounts agree upon: The combating across the eastern city of Bakhmut is relentless, and the casualties — on either side — are excessive. 

A fierce battle within the streets: Till a couple of weeks in the past, the battle was waged largely with tanks, artillery and mortars. However Bakhmut has more and more change into a area of city fight, with each avenue and constructing within the suburbs and surrounding villages contested.

Russian forces — together with fighters from the Wagner private military company — have edged towards the middle of town from the east, south and north.

Ukrainian models have launched frequent counter-attacks to attempt to reclaim some territory and protect their precarious entry to Bakhmut from the west. That entry has change into steadily extra sophisticated as routes into town have come below management of Russian forces.

Ukrainian troopers on unofficial social media accounts have stated they’re more and more reliant on dust roads to achieve — and go away — Bakhmut, tracks which will change into impassable because the frost turns to mud.

Russia goals to encircle Ukraine’s troops: Somewhat than drive instantly towards town heart, Wagner teams have sought to encompass town in a large arc from the north. In January, the teams claimed the close by city of Soledar, and have since taken a string of villages and hamlets north of Bakhmut.

That course of seems to have gone a step additional in latest days, with Wagner apparently reaching the village of Yahidne instantly to the northwest of Bakhmut. The village sits on a route that, till just lately, was utilized by Ukrainians to get out and in of town.

The subsequent goal for the Russians could possibly be the city of Chasiv Yar, a straggling assortment of Soviet-era residence blocks, sitting on excessive floor which has already been extensively broken. Ukrainian officers stated it got here below artillery fireplace once more Sunday.

How lengthy will Ukraine defend town? The conundrum for the Ukrainian army is whether or not it stays possible to proceed defending Bakhmut.

At first of February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated, “Nobody will give up Bakhmut. We’ll battle so long as we are able to. We think about Bakhmut our fortress.”

Extra just lately, in an interview with Italian media, Zelensky’s tone was barely totally different. “It is necessary for us to defend (Bakhmut), however not at any worth and never for everybody to die,” he was quoted as saying.

If Bakhmut can not be held, it will likely be vital to notice the place Ukrainians select to attract their subsequent defensive traces. The cities of Kostiantynivka and Kramatorsk will not be far to the west of Bakhmut and have already registered an uptick in Russian missile assaults.  

For now, there is no signal of a withdrawal of Ukrainian models from the Bakhmut space, and the brutal combating wears on.

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