Ukraine: Wagner Group claims capture of part of Bakhmout
Ukrainian gunners relentlessly bombard Russian positions near Bakhmout.
The Russian paramilitary group Wagner on Wednesday claimed responsibility for taking the eastern part of Bakhmout, a town in the heart of fighting for months in eastern Ukraine and which could fall “in the next few days”, according to the NATO Secretary General.
However, in Chassiv Iar, a little further west, Ukrainian howitzers fired tirelessly on Russian positions and tanks brought new troops to the front.
According to the Director of US Intelligence, Avril Haines, the big Russian offensive that was feared a few weeks ago has fizzled and the Kremlin seems to have to content itself with scaled down objectives, apart from proceeding with a new mobilization mass and obtain large quantities of arms deliveries from a third party.
Excerpt from a video of Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigojine, where he asks the Ukrainian president to withdraw his troops of Bakhmout.
However, for now, Wagner units have taken the entire eastern part of Bakhmout, everything east of the Bakhmoutka River, which runs through this small town in Donbass, said in an audio message. the boss of this paramilitary organization, Yevgeny Prigojine.
While the Ukrainian forces defending the city are threatened with encirclement, the boss of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said he could not rule out Bakhmout finally falling in the next few days.
“It doesn't necessarily reflect any turning point in the war, but it underscores the fact that we shouldn't underestimate Russia. We must continue to support Ukraine.
— Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO
Currently, in Chassiv Iar, a town west of Bakhmout, the shots of the Ukrainian artillery posted around ceaselessly slam and echo on the empty buildings.
Armored vehicles regularly cross this locality, coming from the front or going there, their tracks leaving traces of black mud on the road.
Artillery duel on the front line in Bakhmout on January 15.
Tense, even if they joke among themselves, a dozen soldiers are waiting for an armored vehicle that will take them to the front. In addition to their armament – rifles and RPG rocket launchers – the soldiers carry large shovels to prepare the trenches. Food, sleeping bag and floor mats complete the equipment.
Before getting on the tank, the soldiers surround their helmet and their right arm with a band of green ribbon, a distinctive sign to recognize yourself on the forehead.
The fighting is fierce, but in Washington, US Intelligence Director Avril Haines said she believes the Russian military's capabilities are now limited.
“If Russia does not launch a mandatory mobilization and find significant supplies of ammunition from a third party, it will be increasingly difficult for it to maintain the current level of offensive operations over the next few months. »
— Avril Haines, Director of U.S. National Intelligence
As a result, Russian forces could shift completely to defending the territories they currently occupy, she says .
Meeting in Stockholm with their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiï Reznikov, the 27 EU Defense Ministers are for their part fine-tuning an emergency plan to deliver shipments of shells to Kiev within a few weeks. moment when European stocks are themselves under pressure.
Our top priority is air defense systems, as well as ammunition, ammunition and more ammunition, insisted the Ukrainian minister.
Aerial footage of Bakhmout shot on February 13 shows a city in ruins.
Despite the effective defense of the Ukrainians since the start of the battle for Bakhmout last August, Russia has relentlessly tried to conquer the city, at the cost of very high losses, the very admission of the leader of the Wagner group.
This battle is the longest and deadliest since the outbreak of the Russian offensive in February 2022. While the strategic value of this city is disputed, it has gained symbolic importance, given the heavy losses suffered by the two sides.
Moscow has been chasing a win since its stinging setbacks in the fall and hopes the city's fall can open up control of the part of Donbass, an industrial region in eastern Ukraine, which still eludes it.
The Russians seem to control access to the city from the north, south and east, leaving only one western exit route for the Ukrainians.
Conjecture has therefore been rife for weeks about a tactical withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Bakhmout.
In his latest report, the Prime Minister The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has also said that it believes that Ukrainian forces have made a controlled withdrawal from eastern Bakhmout, letting the Russians advance.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar repeated in this regard on Wednesday that the Battle of Bakhmout is in any case a victory in that it allowed the neutralization of a large number of soldiers and soldiers. ;Russian armaments engaged there.
Commenting on the broadcast of the video, which has gone viral, of a Ukrainian soldier prisoner apparently executed with a burst after launching Glory to Ukraine!, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres underlined how shocking it was under the laws of war.
Mr. Guterres met with Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the extension of the agreement with Russia on Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, the critical importance of which he stressed to the press for the country's food supply. poor.
Mr. Zelensky said he also spoke about the many cases of our children being kidnapped by Russia and how we can bring them home.