KYIV: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the situation on the eastern front line was getting tougher, with Russia throwing more and more troops into battle to break down Ukrainian defences.
Zelenskyy’s comments on Saturday came as shelling continued in the eastern Donetsk region while an accident at a power plant in the southern region of Odesa left nearly 500,000 homes without electricity.
“I’ve often had to say the situation at the front is tough, and is getting tougher, and it’s that time again. … The invader is putting more and more of his forces into breaking down our defences,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
“It is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Lyman and other directions,” he continued.
Russian troops, who have been pushing for a significant battlefield victory after months of setbacks, have been trying to close their grip on the town of Bakhmut and are also trying to capture the nearby coal-mining city of Vuhledar, also in the eastern region of Donetsk.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that Russian efforts to break the defences in Bakhmut and Lyman had failed.
Lyman, which lies just to the north of Bakhmut, was liberated by Ukrainian forces in October.
“This week, the Russian occupation forces threw all their efforts into breaking through our defence and encircling Bakhmut, and launched a powerful offensive in the Lyman sector,” Malyar said. “But thanks to the resilience of our soldiers, they did not succeed.”
Ukraine’s border guard service reported that its soldiers killed four and wounded seven opposing forces as they fought off the latest attack.
The fighting around Bakhmut has been costly for Russia in terms of soldiers’ lives, the Kremlin admitted.
Russia’s independent news outlet Meduza reported in late January that some 40,000 of the 50,000 recruits by the powerful Wagner private military group involved in the campaign there were either dead or missing.
Ukrainian officials meanwhile reported continued shelling in the Chernihiv, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and Mykolaiv regions.
They also reported recovering the bodies of two British volunteers killed trying to help evacuate people from the eastern warzone. They were identified as Chris Parry, 28, and Andrew Bagshaw, 47. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)