Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered the Ukrainian army to strengthen the defense of the city of Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting in the east of the country, refuting speculation of a withdrawal in the face of Russian troops who have been trying for months to take this symbolic city. On the contrary, Ukrainian officials asserted that the defense of Bakhmout had already constituted a “strategic success” by mobilizing and weakening the Russian offensive forces, which suffered very heavy
losses without gaining a decisive advantage.
“I told the general staff to find the appropriate forces to help the guys in Bakhmout”said the Ukrainian president in his daily video message, this Monday evening, reaffirming “that no part of Ukraine can be abandoned” to Russia. As rumors of a tactical withdrawal swelled for a week, the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces reportedly “spoken in favor of continuing the defensive operation and strengthening (their) positions in Bakhmout”during a meeting with the Head of State, a little earlier in the day.
A city of 70,000 inhabitants before the war, Bakhmout has become the symbol of the battle for control of the industrial region of Donbass. Russian troops have advanced in recent weeks north and south of the city, cutting off three of Ukraine’s four supply routes and leaving only the one leading west as an exit route.