- A British report indicates that Ukrainian forces were being pressured into Bakhmut
- The Ukrainian military says they are still fighting there
KYIV (Reuters) – British intelligence said on Friday that Russian forces had likely taken control of the center of the hotly contested city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and threatened a key supply route for Ukrainian forces to the west.
Asked to comment on the report, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military command told Reuters the situation was difficult in Bakhmut and that Russian forces were focusing all efforts to take the city but had not achieved “strategic success”.
The months-long battle for Bakhmut, one of the last urban centers in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province yet to fall to Russian forces, proved to be one of the bloodiest of the war.
The British report, if confirmed, indicates that Ukrainian forces are under severe pressure, two days after President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that they would withdraw if they were in danger of being encircled.
Donetsk is one of four provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine that Russia seeks to completely occupy. It announced its annexation last year after failing to capture the capital, Kiev, in an attempt to sweep into Ukraine early in the war.
Friday’s daily update from British intelligence contrasted with the usual focus on Ukraine’s military successes.
“Russia has made further gains and now it is very likely that they have advanced in the city center and captured the western bank of the Pakhmutka River. It is possible that the main Ukrainian supply route 0506 to the west of the city is seriously threatened,” it said.
Eastern military command spokesman Serhiy Chervaty told Reuters that Ukraine was in control of the situation in Bakhmut and understood Russia’s intentions.
“The situation is difficult, the enemy is making every effort to capture Bakhmut. But it is suffering heavy losses and has not achieved strategic success,” Sherivati said.
Western analysts say that both sides are losing large numbers of troops in the Battle of Bakhmut.
They underestimated the city’s strategic importance, but Ukraine fashioned its tenacious defense as a way to wear down Russian forces before a counterattack backed by advanced weaponry provided by the West.
Reporting from the Reuters offices: Writing by Stephen Coates and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Robert Purcell, Clarence Fernandez, and Mark Heinrichs
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