Ukraine war

As Russia attacks Bakhmut, Ukraine gets ready for a counterattack

Anti-aircraft unit serviceman prepares to pose for a portrait with a portable anti-aircraft missile system, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Soledar north of Bakhmut, Ukraine March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

A commander stated that Ukrainian forces, which have been on the defensive for months, will soon launch a counteroffensive as the Russian offensive appears to falter. Nevertheless, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that the battle might extend for years without a speedier supply of ammunition.

Zelenskiy stated that Europe must expand and expedite its arms supplies, reiterating its need for long-range missiles, ammunition, and modern aircraft and applying new sanctions against Russia.

"If Europe delays, the enemy may have time to reorganize and prepare for years of conflict," Zelenskiy said in a train-delivered video message to European Union leaders on Thursday.

At the EU summit, leaders endorsed a plan agreed upon by foreign ministers on Monday to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine over the following year. In addition, they discussed global food security and Russian sanctions.

Britain has committed to providing armour-piercing munitions containing depleted uranium to assist in destroying Russian tanks, a move that President Vladimir Putin predicted would elicit a response from Russia due to the "nuclear component" of the weapons. read further

Slovakia announced on Thursday that it had delivered the first four MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, with the remainder to follow in the next weeks.

After enduring Russia's brutal winter assault, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, vowed his troops would soon launch a counteroffensive.

Russia's Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the forefront of Moscow's attack on eastern and southern Ukraine, "are losing significant strength and are running out of steam," he claimed.

"Very soon, we will seize this opportunity, just as we did last year at Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya, and Kupiansk," he warned, listing Ukrainian counteroffensives that recaptured large tracts of territory.

Moscow did not respond immediately to reports that its soldiers in Bakhmut were losing momentum, but Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin released statements in recent days warning of a Ukrainian counterattack.

Monday, Prigozhin sent a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stating that the Ukrainian government intended to separate Wagner's soldiers from Russia's regular troops.

At the front line north of Bakhmut, journalists from Reuters observed indications that the Russian offensive in the region might be weakening. At a Ukrainian-held settlement west of Soledar, on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, the intensity of the Russian bombardment diminished significantly compared to two days prior.

A Ukrainian soldier with the call sign "Kamin" or "Stone" stated, "Last week it was quite hot here, but in the last three days, it has cooled off."

"This is evident from the enemy's aerial attacks. If previously there were five or six air raids each day, there was only one today, "said the soldier.

Shifting Focus

A Russian pause in Bakhmut could indicate a redeployment of troops and resources to other regions.

The United Kingdom said on Thursday that Russian troops had made gains further north this month, regaining partial control of the approaches to the city of Kreminna. Intense combat was also occurring further south.

Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst from Ukraine, concurred with this assessment. He stated on YouTube that Russia was decreasing its attacks on Bakhmut and shifting its focus south to Avdiivka.

He stated that Russia's forces have grown increasingly active in the northern districts of Kharkiv, Luhansk, central Zaporizhzhia, and southern Kherson.

If confirmed, any change in momentum in Bakhmut would be remarkable, given the city's symbolic significance as the focal point of Russia's offensive and the scale of losses on both sides in the bloodiest infantry battle in Europe since World War II.

Since November, Ukraine's front lines have been mostly frozen on the ground. Several weeks ago, Ukraine appeared likely to withdraw from Bakhmut but decided to continue fighting.

Zelenskiy continued his tour of front-line provinces on Thursday, visiting the southern district of Kherson a day after speaking with troops near Bakhmut.

A video depicted him meeting with locals in Posad Pokrovske, a bombed-out village on the former Kherson front line recaptured in Ukraine's last significant advance of the previous year.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 in a "special military operation," citing the security threat posed by Ukraine's ties to the West. Since then, thousands of Ukrainian military and civilians have been slaughtered on both sides.

Russia has demolished Ukrainian cities and displaced millions of people. It claims to have annexed roughly 20 per cent of Ukraine. Kyiv and the West view the conflict as an unjustified attempt to subjugate an independent nation.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, stated that the EU would strive to locate Ukrainian children taken to Russia and advocate for their release. She said that 16,200 children were deported while just 300 returned to Ukraine.

Putin was granted an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court a week ago for the forceful deportation of Ukrainian children.

"Deporting children is a horrific reminder of the darkest periods in our history. This constitutes a war crime, "von der Leyen said.

Publish : 2023-03-24 12:18:00

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