Russia grinds on in eastern Ukraine; Bakhmut ‘destroyed’

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces have “destroyed” the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as Ukraine’s military launched missile, rocket and airstrikes across parts of the country on Saturday. Reportedly, after which Moscow is trying to conquer. Months of resistance.

The latest battles in Russia’s 9 1/2-month war in Ukraine center on four provinces that Russian President Vladimir Putin triumphantly — and illegally — claimed to have annexed in late September. The fighting underscores Russia’s struggle to establish control over these territories and Ukraine’s determination to reclaim them.

Zelinsky said the situation was “very difficult” in several front-line cities in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Together, the provinces comprise the Donbass, a vast industrial region bordering Russia that Putin identified as a focus from the start of the war and where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014.

“Bakhmut, Solidar, Merinka, Karimna. For a long time, there is no living space on earth in these areas that has not been damaged by shells and fire,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address, naming such cities. Giving said that once again found himself in the crosshairs. In fact destroyed another Donbas city, Bakhmut, which the Russian army reduced to burnt ruins.

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Zielinski didn’t specify what he meant by “destroyed” — and some buildings are standing and residents are still roaming downtown streets.

Ukraine’s military General Staff reported missile attacks, about 20 airstrikes and more than 60 rocket attacks in Ukraine between Friday and Saturday night. The most active fighting took place in Bakhmut district, where more than 20 populated areas were on fire, spokesman Oleksandr Shtopan said. He said Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk.

During the summer Russia’s grinding eastern offensive captured almost all of Luhansk. Donetsk has not fared the same, and analysts and Ukrainian officials have said the Russian military has poured manpower and resources around Bakhmut in recent weeks.

After Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson nearly a month ago, fighting around Bakhmut has heated up, reflecting Putin’s desire for clear gains after weeks of apparent setbacks in Ukraine.

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Taking Bakhmut would cut Ukrainian supply lines and open the way for Russian forces to push toward the main Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. Russia has defeated Bakhmut with rockets for more than half of the year. The ground offensive intensified after its troops forced Ukrainians to evacuate Luhansk in July.

But some analysts have questioned the strategic logic of Russia’s continued efforts to capture Bakhmut and surrounding areas, which have come under heavy shelling in recent weeks, and where Ukrainian authorities have reported that some residents are living in damp basements.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington, said, “The costs associated with six months of brutal, grinding, and intolerable fighting around #Bakhmut far outweigh any operational gains from taking the #RussianBakhmut. can get.” posted on his Twitter feed on Thursday.

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On Friday, Putin criticized recent comments by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said a 2015 peace deal between France and Germany over eastern Ukraine was preparing for war with Russia this year. had bought time for Ukraine.

The deal was intended to defuse tensions after pro-Russian separatists seized the Donbass region a year ago, sparking a war with Ukrainian forces that joined Russia after a full-scale offensive on February 24. It had turned into a war.

Ukraine’s military also reported attacks in other provinces on Saturday: Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine, Zaporizhia in the southeast and Kherson in the south. The latter two, along with Donetsk and Luhansk, are the four regions that Putin claims are now Russian territory.

In Odessa, a major port city on the Black Sea in the west, drone strikes left much of the area without power overnight, local government chief Maxim Marchenko said.


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