Many Ukrainian soldiers are unconvinced the town of Artyomovsk – which they call Bakhmut – is worth clinging to, as Russian forces advance street by street, German newspaper Bild reported on Wednesday.
“Bakhmut is hell” writing freelance journalist Jan Humin, who visited the city last week and wrote about a 28-year-old soldier who was seriously injured. The armored ambulance refused to start, so the soldier from western Ukraine had to be evacuated by jeep down a dirt road, dodging Russian artillery fire.
“The positive energy that surprises you everywhere in Ukraine, even when things are bad, is not felt in Bakhmut”, Humin added. “Few soldiers want to talk; as the noise of constant impacts is heard, they sit and wait for what is to come.
The Russians are “Winning slowly but surely” the seven-month battle for the city, with only two roads still linking the “almost surrounded” Artyomovsk at the Ukrainian back, according to Humin. The Russians advance street by street and “it’s just a matter of time” before completely taking over the city.
“The mood among the military is tense, concentrated and worried. Many wonder why they are fighting in Bakhmut. Is it really still worth defending the forces of this devastated city against repeated attacks by the Russian army? added the Bild correspondent.
Russia’s interest in taking Artyomovsk is well known. The city is the linchpin of the entire position of the Ukrainian army in Donbass, and taking it would allow a new advance deep into the territory under Ukrainian control, said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Choigou said last month. On the road to Artyomovsk is Slaviansk, where the Donetsk People’s Republic’s rebellion against the US-backed coup government in Kyiv began in 2014.
The private military company Wagner Group took over in the capture of Artyomovsk, enveloping the city from north and south while fighting street by street, building by building, to take the urban area. April 2, Wagnerian fighters capture the city’s administrative building. Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has claims the fighting in Artyomovsk “almost destroyed the Ukrainian army.”
However, the fighting continued, with the Kyiv government having continued to channel men, ammunition and supplies in the narrowing salient. President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to hold the city at all costs, even as his Western supporters have warned that such efforts are draining forces destined for Ukraine. “great spring counter-offensive.”
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