Bakhmut city remains Russian focus – Five people were injured earlier by two Russian strikes in central Kharkiv
Fierce battles are held today in the city Bahamut, the “hot spot” front in eastern Ukraine, with Kyiv persistently asking the West for fighter jets as the situation becomes increasingly difficult.
The Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov criticized the “reticence” of the West, which is reluctant to supply Ukraine with modern fighters, arguing that it would “cost more Ukrainian lives”.
At the same time, Reznikov pledged that the long-range weapon systems to be procured by Ukraine will not be used to hit targets on Russian soil, but only in the occupied zones. Some Western countries worried that the weapons would escalate the conflict that began about a year ago.
The Russian army, with the help of Wagner’s mercenaries, has been trying since the summer to capture Bakhmut, a city that has been almost leveled and where both sides are suffering heavy losses.
In recent weeks the Russians made small territorial gains and hopes to break Ukrainian resistance by seizing the nearby town of Solentar and, more recently, the village of Blakontatne.
“Fierce battles took place in the northern suburbs (of Bakhmut) for every street, every house, every staircase,” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said, according to his organization’s press office. “The Ukrainian armed forces are not backing down, they are fighting to the last man,” he added.
When asked about a possible retreat from Bakhmut, Reznikov assured that the city remains “a fortress, a symbol” but that the decision rests with the general staff of the Ukrainian army.
“Life is short”
AFP journalists attended today a service in the basement of a church, in the presence of some twenty believers. Among them were two Ukrainian soldiers. Three women chanted hymns as mortar shells rang out in the distance. The place was lit only by candles and a portable lamp used by the two priests.
“Today, I prayed that everything would be better for me after my death,” Seraphim Chernykhov, 20, said as he left the church. “Last night, a rocket landed in my garden and a stray bullet entered my house, it could have hit me. We have to understand that life is short, I may die now or in 30 years. If I am killed, it will be God’s will,” he added firmly.
Lyubov Avramenko, 84, prayed “for peace.” “We are sitting in the basement, no water, no gas, no electricity,” said the old woman.
“I prayed for my country, for Ukraine, for my family. I am sure that everything will be over soon”, Svetlana Boyko, 51, wants to believe.
On Saturday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that the situation is “complicated” on the front and in particular in Bakhmut, which he has promised not to abandon but to defend “as long as necessary”. He also mentioned Vugledar, which is under attack by Russian forces, and Liman, a town recaptured by Ukrainians last year. “The conqueror is mobilizing more and more forces to break our defense,” he stressed.
Five injured in Kharkiv
Five people were wounded earlier by two Russian strikes in the center of Kharkiv, in the northeast, according to the head of the regional military command, Oleg Sinegubov.
Ukraine’s defense minister said he expects a broad Russian attack within February. The weapons given to his country by the West have not yet reached Ukraine but “we have resources and reserves to defend ourselves”, he assured.
Reznikov also announced that the Leopard tank handling training will start tomorrow Monday. Deliveries of these Western weapons are critical to Kyiv and have angered Moscow, which is threatening to escalate the conflict.
Today also comes into effect the European embargo on Russian oil products transported by sea, a measure that the Kremlin describes as “negative” and says will “further destabilize” the markets.
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With a wealth of experience honed over 4+ years in journalism, I bring a seasoned voice to the world of news. Currently, I work as a freelance writer and editor, always seeking new opportunities to tell compelling stories in the field of world news.