It was raining and thawing in eastern Ukraine on Monday, hindering both sides’ efforts to take the initiative, while Russian forces were trying to close the circle around Bakhmut, a mining city.
Ukraine is being forced to withdraw its garrison from Bakhmut because Russia is encircling it. It would be Moscow’s first major victory in more than half a year, following a brutal Russian assault started over frozen ground that turned into one of the bloodiest phases of the conflict.
Ukrainian ground forces commander said the situation there is “extremely tense” as Russian troops are encircling the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian defenders are under pressure from Russia to cut their supply lines to the city, which has been the scene of some of the war’s toughest combat. As a result, Russia would secure its first major victory for more than half a year and open up the possibility of capturing the last remaining urban centers in Donetsk.
In attempting to cut off Ukrainian forces within the ruined city, which once held about 75,000 people, Moscow’s forces are making noticeable, if slow, progress north and south of Bakhmut.
“A vicious battle is taking place around Bakhmut. The command is doing everything it can to halt the enemy’s advance,” Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, told Ukrainian television.
Ukraine’s Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi says that both, his troops and the enemy have suffered significant losses, but the enemy sends their most prepared assault units to surround the city in spite of their losses.
A military report on Tuesday stated, “Our soldiers repelled more than 60 enemy attacks in Bakhmut and nearby eastern areas over the past day.” On the northern approach to Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on Yadhidne and Berkhivka.
Cold weather thawed the frozen ground in the Donetsk region, forcing Ukrainian soldiers into muddy trenches.
The mud caused several military vehicles to get stuck, according to reports. The 25-year-old platoon commander Volodymyr told the reporter his men were prepared for any weather in their trench, cut deeply out of the ground in a zigzag pattern.
“Targets mean we have to destroy them.” a soldier explained.
The Russian Army has intensified its attacks along the east-facing front since late last year as it replenished its forces by calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists.
It has been reported that a number of Russia’s assaults have failed and cost a lot of money in Western countries.
According to Moscow, the U.S.-made rockets and Ukrainian drones were shot down and a Ukrainian ammunition depot was destroyed near Bakhmut. The battlefield reports could not be verified by reporters.
Amidst the increasing difficulties around Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that Russia was “constantly destroying all that could be used to fortify and defend.”
As a part of his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin renounced the last nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, but he didn’t announce any major initiatives to change the course of the conflict.
His speech was overshadowed by Bidens’s in Warsaw, where he made a milestone speech of his own.
A large portion of Ukraine which Russia claims to have annexed is still under Russian control. Ukraine’s outnumbered troops repelled Russia’s attack on the capital early in the war and later recaptured considerable territory.