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Bakhmut withholds as Ukraine fights on

The situation in Eastern Ukraine was “extremely tense” on Tuesday as Russian troops besieging Bakhmut stepped up their assault trying to fully encircle the city, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces said. Meanwhile warmer weather, heralding the coming of spring is transforming the frozen ground into mud, making it almost impossible for soldiers to advance.

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Russia is trying to cut the Ukrainian defenders’ supply lines to the city, and force them to surrender or withdraw. That would give Russia its first major win in more than half a year and open the way to the capture of the last remaining urban centers in the Donetsk region.

Bakhmut holding out

“Despite significant losses, the enemy threw in the most prepared assault units of Wagner, who are trying to break through the defenses of our troops and surround the city,” Ukraine’s Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi said on a military messaging platform quoted by Reuters.

Earlier the Ukrainian military reported that Russia had strengthened its forces in the Bakhmut area and was shelling settlements around the city.

“Over the past day, our soldiers repelled more than 60 enemy attacks,” the military said early on Tuesday referring to Bakhmut and nearby eastern areas, adding that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on the villages of Yadhidne and Berkhivka, in the north.

Fortress Bakhmut stands…

The hands
The blood
The stretchers
The wounded

Photo: Liberov photographers

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) February 28, 2023

“The southern part of Bakhmut is the only area that can be described as under Ukrainian control. In all other districts, the situation is unpredictable,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov pointed out in a video commentary, adding that “It is impossible to say where the front line lies.”

Mud-spaltered ground

Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk region hunkered in muddy trenches after warmer weather melted the frozen ground.

“Both sides stay in their positions because as you see, spring means mud. Thus, it is impossible to move forward,” a commander of a Ukrainian frontline rocket launcher battery said, quoted by Reuters.

The infamous mud is back in Eastern Ukraine.

Via @Teoyaomiquu

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) February 17, 2023

More cannon fodder

Russia replenished its forces with hundreds of thousands of conscripts and intensified its attacks along the eastern front but its assaults have come at a high cost, according to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Wow – the old Russian tradition of using provincial (and non-Russian) populations as cannon-fodder is alive and well… #Ukraine

— Roger Moorhouse 🇺🇦 (@Roger_Moorhouse) February 27, 2023

“Vicious battles are going on there. The command is doing everything it can to stop the enemy from advancing through our territory,” Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, told Ukrainian television.

More Western officials visit Kyiv

When the one-year mark of the Russian invasion of Ukraine started approaching, officials from many Ukraine-allied states came to visit the war-torn country and promise their support for as long as Ukraine will need it.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen became the latest senior Western official to visit the Ukrainian capital, promising assistance and more measures to isolate Russia after meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials.

Ukraine was visited by Western leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Italian PM Giorgia Meloni, Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez and many others.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled around Europe garnishing support for the Ukrainian cause and lobbying for Ukraine’s accession into the EU and more military aid, including fighter jets.

It’s Ukraine that has brought the EU together like never before. It’s 🇺🇦 that’s defending European values for generations to come. It’s Ukraine where Europe becomes whole, free, and at peace. Together in struggle, together in victory. Long live Europe! Long live freedom! 2/2

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 28, 2023

Ukraine unwilling to give up

Ukraine’s troops repelled Russia’s attack aimed at taking the capital early in the war and later recapturing substantial territory. Russia still occupies nearly a fifth of Ukraine which it claims to have annexed.

Ukraine’s forces have mostly focused on holding defensive positions in recent weeks but are expected to attempt a counter-offensive later in the year with new weapons from the West.

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