Bakhmout after a bombardment on February 3, 2023
Ukraine was the target of heavy Russian bombardment on Saturday, a day after the West promised to deliver longer-range weapons. kyiv still claimed to have successfully thwarted an assault on Bakhmut, an eastern city that the Ukrainian president called a “fortress”.
The enemy clusters in certain areas. It is concentrating its main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka in eastern Ukraine, it was said late after – noon Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
In the eastern region of Donetsk, heavy artillery fire targeted Avdiivka on the front line on Saturday morning after Kramatorsk, another city highly coveted by the Russians, was hit by rockets overnight. reported the Ukrainian authorities.
In the past 24 hours, in the southern province of Zaporizhia alone, shells have fallen on civilian infrastructure located in the territories of 26 localities, according to the same sources.
Shelling also continued in Kherson, a large southern city taken and then abandoned by the Russians, where one person was killed and another injured on Friday.
For their part, the Ukrainian border guards said on Saturday they repelled an onslaught of invaders and drove them out of the suburb of Bakhmout after an aerial reconnaissance revealed that the enemy was preparing to attack this city at the epicenter fighting in Ukraine.
They fired mortars at the place of concentration of the occupants and then forced them to retreat, can we read in their press release.
“This week, the Russian occupation forces have made every effort to break through our defenses and encircle Bakhmout. They thus launched a powerful offensive in the Lyman sector. However, thanks to the resilience of our soldiers, they failed. »
— Hanna Maliar, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister
The military will defend as long as it can Bakhmout, which Russian forces are seeking to outrun; seized for months at the cost of heavy losses. No one will abandon this fortress, President Volodymyr Zelensky had hammered home the day before.
AFP journalists noted the violence of the clashes there on Friday, which reduced field of ruins some of its neighborhoods.
For its part, the port city of Odessa suffered major power outages on Saturday following a technical incident at a power station, which has been the target of constant Russian strikes in recent years. time.
“The district and city of Odessa were almost completely without power. Nearly 500,000 people have no electricity. »
— Maksym Martchenko, Head of Regional Administration
All critical infrastructure has been supplied [with electricity]. Thus, the city will have water and heat. About a third of consumers have electricity, Energy Minister German Galushchenko later said.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriï Yermak, meanwhile announced on the same day a new large exchange of prisoners which allowed kyiv to recover 116 people. He did not comment on the Russian detainees involved in this operation.
Friday, the day a summit with the European Union took place in Kyiv, Ukraine was promised to receive longer-range Western weapons.
The new US military aid, amounting to $2.2 billion, includes rockets in this regard, which could almost double the range of the Ukrainian strike force, according to the Pentagon.
These are in particular GLSDBs (Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs), small diameter devices fired from the ground, capable of hitting a target located 150 km away and therefore threaten Russian positions behind the front lines.
The handover of the GLSDBs will not take place for several months, however, said the US Secretary of Defense.
If arms deliveries accelerate , including long-range weapons, not only are we not going to retreat from Bakhmout, [but] we are going to start ending the occupation of Donbass, an eastern region partly in the hands of of the Russians, President Zelensky immediately commented.
Paris at the same time announced that France and Italy were going to provide, in the spring, a surface-to-air defense system of medium-range MAMBA to help Ukraine defend against Russian drone, missile and aircraft attacks.
And Portugal said on Saturday it was willing to send German-built Leopard 2 heavy tanks to the Ukrainians.
A European embargo on petroleum products exported by sea must also come into force on Sunday, a negative measure that will further unbalance the markets, the Kremlin lamented.