Ukraine And Russia Locked In Brutal Battle In Bakhmut; Casualties Rise
- Leonid Khoda, a veteran Ukrainian tank brigade commander who won the Hero of Ukraine award less than a month after Russia's full-scale invasion
- Zelenskiy said that three civilians who were going to the store in the southern city of Kherson were killed by Russian shelling on Saturday.
Russian forces kept attacking the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region’s eastern Donetsk region. Both sides reported more casualties on the other side as they fought across a small river that now divides the destroyed town and marks the front line.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine said late on Sunday that his troops had killed more than 1,100 Russian soldiers in the last few days as they fought for control of Bakhmut.
“Starting on March 6, we were able to kill more than 1,100 enemy soldiers in less than a week in the Bakhmut sector alone, which is Russia’s permanent loss right there near Bakhmut,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
Zelenskiy said that 1,500 Russian soldiers were hurt badly enough to keep them out of action. These were called “sanitary losses.”
He said that more than 10 Russian ammunition depots and dozens of pieces of enemy equipment were destroyed.
Russia’s defence ministry said earlier in the day that its troops had killed more than 220 Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk area over the past 24 hours.
Reports from the battlefield could not be checked by Reuters, and neither side gave details about their own casualties.
British intelligence said over the weekend that Ukraine forces control the west of the almost empty mining town of Bakhmut, while Russia’s Wagner mercenary group controls most of the east. The Bakhmutka River, which flows through the town, marks the front line.
Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Sunday that things were “tough, very tough” in Bakhmut.
“The fighting gets worse the closer we get to the centre of the city… The Ukrainians keep throwing in more and more money. But we are making progress, and we will continue to make progress,” Prigozhin said in an audio statement that was released by his press service.
He also said that people from the Russian army helped his troops get more ammunition.
“We got 15 truckloads yesterday, and 12 today.” “I think we will continue to get them,” he said, adding that his fighters and the Russian troops were not fighting.
Prigozhin had previously said that Russia’s top leaders were denying his troops ammunition on purpose, which the defence ministry said was not true.
Prigozhin said that once Bakhmut is caught, Wagner will “start over” and start hiring. He also said that he wanted to turn his private military company into a “army with an ideology” that would fight for justice in Russia.
Wagner has already opened centres in 42 cities to find new people to join its ranks.
WAITING FOR TANKS
Even though Bakhmut’s strategic importance isn’t clear, Russia sees taking it as a step towards a major goal of the war, which is now in its second year: taking over all of the industrial Donbas region in Ukraine. The Donbas is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukraine has decided to keep fighting in Bakhmut, even though it seemed at first like they were going to leave. They want to wear down Russia’s best units before a spring counteroffensive.
Analysts think that the Ukrainian counter-offensive will start in earnest in April or May, when the weather gets better and more military aid, such as heavy Leopard and Challenger tanks, arrives.
Leonid Khoda, a veteran Ukrainian tank brigade commander who won the Hero of Ukraine award less than a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion, told Reuters that Western tanks will change the way wars are fought in a big way.
“Everyone is waiting, and so is the 1st Tank Brigade. Khoda, who is in charge of the 1st Siversk Tank Brigade, which is fighting to the south of Donetsk, said, “Recently, we sent people to learn how to operate (Leopard) 2A6.”
Zelenskiy said that three civilians who were going to the store in the southern city of Kherson were killed by Russian shelling on Saturday. He called these “brutal terrorist attacks” by pro-Russian units.
Russia has said that it is not aiming at civilians.
In an interview that came out on Sunday, the foreign minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, asked Germany to speed up the delivery of weapons and start training Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets.
Kuleba made it clear that he didn’t think Ukraine’s Western allies would give it the fighter jets it has been asking for any time soon, but he said pilots should be ready for when a decision was made.
A top EU official also said that the EU could soon add 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) to the fund that is used to buy weapons for Ukraine. ($1 = 0.9396 euros)