Russia’s Bakhmut assault is losing steam, Ukraine says – National

Now that a huge Russian winter offensive has run out of steam without taking Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces have been on the defense for four months and will launch the long-awaited counteroffensive “soon,” Ukrainian ground forces say. the commander-in-chief said Thursday.

General Oleksandr Shirsky’s remarks were the strongest indication that Kiev was trying to absorb the Russian onslaught during the harsh winter and change its tactics.

Russian Wagnerian mercenaries are trying to capture Bahmut in what has become the longest and bloodiest battle of the war, but are “considerably underpowered and losing momentum,” Shirsky said on Telegram’s social media site. .

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“We will immediately take advantage of this opportunity, as we have done in the past near Kiev, Kharkov, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said, citing last year’s Ukrainian counterattack that proved a turning point in the war, and the land. recaptured.

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Shirsky last year was one of the top commanders behind the Ukrainian strategy that repelled Russia’s attack on Kiev and pushed Moscow forces back until late 2022.

But Ukraine’s front line has been largely frozen since Ukraine’s last major offensive in November. Since then, Moscow has sent hundreds of thousands of newly recruited reservists and inmates drawn from prisons into what both sides describe as a meat grinder.

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War in Ukraine: Residents flee Bakhmut as Russia shuts down

Russia’s military actions have yielded little results, and it seemed likely that Ukraine would withdraw from the small eastern city of Bakhmut, but this month it decided to keep troops there, and last August Denied Moscow victory since.

Kiev has long said it plans a major counterattack at some point this year, using newly supplied Western weapons. Some of last year’s most successful attacks followed quickly after Russia exhausted its forces in major fighting in the east.

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While there was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the latest allegations that Bakhmut’s forces were losing momentum, Wagner mercenary boss Evgeny Prigozhin recently issued a gloomy statement warning of a Ukrainian counterattack. bottom.

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On Monday, Prigozhin issued a letter to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, saying that Ukraine aims to separate Wagner’s forces from Russia’s regular army, calling on Shoigu to take action to prevent this and if he fails. warned of “negative results”.

On Wednesday, the UK Ministry of Defense reported that Ukraine had launched a localized counteroffensive west of Bakhmut. This will likely ease pressure on the main route used to supply Kiev forces within Bakhmut.

Although Bakhmut’s Ukrainian forces could still be encircled, “there is a real possibility that the Russian attack on the town is losing the limited momentum it has gained so far,” he said.

Russia attacks as XI departs

This week, President Vladimir Putin made the biggest diplomatic gesture since the start of the war a year ago, welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping as a state guest in Moscow for three days. The two leaders pledged friendship and jointly condemned the West, but Xi rarely mentioned the war in Ukraine in public.

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On Wednesday, the day Xi Jinping left, Moscow sent a swarm of drones to airstrike northern Ukraine, with rockets hitting two apartments in Zaporizhia in the south.

One of the attacks that hit a dormitory in a riverside town south of Kiev has raised the death toll to nine on Thursday.

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Russians see minimal profits in Bakhmut

Russia invaded Ukraine last February in what it called a “special military operation,” citing Kiev’s close ties with the West as a security threat. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides have been killed. Russia destroyed Ukrainian cities and forced millions to flee. claims to have annexed almost one-fifth of Ukraine.

Kiev and the West call the war a futile attack to conquer an independent country.

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Last week, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges, accusing him of illegally deporting Ukrainian children. Moscow denies this and says the children were taken in to protect them.

Dmitry Medvedev, who stood in for Putin as president for four years when he became prime minister, said arresting Putin would amount to declaring war on Russia.

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