- The leader of the Wagner mercenary group, which has led Russia's efforts to take Bakhmut, said this month that his fighters held more than 80% of the city.
- Most people think that the Ukrainian military will launch a counterattack in the coming weeks or months to take back land that Russia now controls.
President Vladimir Putin went to the Russian military headquarters in the eastern parts of Ukraine. He talked about the war with a general in charge of airborne troops, who apparently took on a powerful new role in the invasion.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Putin went to an army command meeting in the southern Kherson region and heard about what was going on there. He also went to the headquarters in the Luhansk area in the east of Ukraine.
The Kremlin also put out a video of Putin taking a helicopter to Luhansk while wearing a heavy blue jacket, but it didn’t say when any of the talks took place. Putin met with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu on Sunday in Moscow.
The leader of Russia learned about the situation in Kherson and Zaporizhia from the commanders of the airborne forces and the “Dnieper” army group, as well as from other high-ranking officers. Both of these areas have been declared part of Russia by Moscow.
Putin told the commanders, “It’s important for me to hear your thoughts on how things are going, to listen to you, and to share information.”
Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, who was in charge of Russia’s flying troops, sat to Putin’s right. Colonel General Oleg Makarevich, who was in charge of Russia’s ground troops, sat to Putin’s left.
Sunday, British military intelligence said that Teplinsky had a big job in the war.
Battle for Bakhmut
Kherson and Zaporizhia are two of the four Ukrainian regions that Russia took over in September, even though it doesn’t have full control over any of them. Kiev and its partners called this move illegal.
In November, the Russian army left Kherson, the capital of the area and the biggest city it had taken since its invasion in February 2022. Since then, troops have been shoring up their positions on the other side of the Dnieper river in preparation for a new attack from Ukraine.
Russian and Ukrainian troops are fighting hard for control of eastern Bakhmut, a town that used to be a salt mining center but is now in ashes.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground troops said on Tuesday that Russian forces are increasing their use of heavy artillery and air attacks in the destroyed city.
For months, the fighting in and around Bakhmut has been the most important part of the war in Ukraine.
General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement, “Right now, the enemy is increasing the use of heavy artillery and the number of air strikes. This is turning the city into ruins.”
He said that Russia was still determined to take Bakhmut “at any cost,” but that it was losing a lot.
Before the war, there were about 70,000 people living in the city. It is the main target of Russia’s winter offensive, which hasn’t made many wins despite intense infantry ground fighting not seen in Europe since World War II.
Taking Bakhmut could help Russia move toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, two bigger towns in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine that it has wanted for a long time.
The leader of the Wagner mercenary group, which has led Russia’s efforts to take Bakhmut, said this month that his fighters held more than 80% of the city.
Ukraine said that this was not true and that it still held a lot more than 20% of the city. Most people think that the Ukrainian military will launch a counterattack in the coming weeks or months to take back land that Russia now controls.