Ukrainian forces are still trying to hold onto their positions in war-torn Bakhmut as the Russian army continues its offensive to break the defense lines, Reuters writes.
If Russia captures Bakhmut, it could become point for gaining control over the entire Donbas region, while Ukraine has indicated that the city is of little strategic importance.
Not everyone is convinced that it will be possible to keep Bakhmut indefinitely. Serhiy Rakhmanin, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said on radio NV on Wednesday, the 1st of March, that he might have to leave the city at some point:
«But for the moment, Bakhmut will be defended with several aims – firstly, to inflict as many Russian losses as possible and make Russia use its ammunition and resources.»
He added that no line of defense should collapse.
The battles for Bahmut started seven months ago, but the intensive attacks of the occupiers in recent weeks have left the defenders with only one way of retreat – westward. Oleh Zhdanov, a Ukrainian military expert and reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stated that there is a risk that the Ukrainians will be encircled: «The enemy is trying to cut off the roads that are used to supply our forces in Bakhmut. Russia cannot take Bakhmut by fighting or attacking directly. The only way they can take the city is to besiege it.» Zhdanov described the process in the Russian ranks as a conveyor belt – heavy trucks bring soldiers, and the same trucks take away the wounded, and this is repeated continuously, around the clock.
Thousands of civilians remain in Bakhmut.
On the evening of the 1st of March, the Ukrainian army reported that the Russians were continuously attacking Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces were in control of every section of the front line.
Russian forces were also preparing for new attacks in the central Zaporizhzhia region and on the southern front in the Kherson region, the military said.
More than 40 towns and villages were shelled.
In Ukraine, the 1st of March is traditionally considered the beginning of spring, and it also means that the frozen ground thaws and the roads are covered with mud. Historically, these conditions are associated with the defeat of many armies.
Zelensky said: «Winter is over. It was very difficult, and it is no exaggeration to say that every resident of Ukraine felt the difficulties. However, we managed to provide Ukraine with electricity and heating. Threats to the power system remain. Work continues to enable it to function.»
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