Wagner’s head of mercenaries acknowledges that Bakhmut resistance exists.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, REUTERS ; Edited by News Gate Team

Yevgeny Prigozhin said that Russian forces are fighting valiantly to seize the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

A Ukrainian soldier fires a mortar towards Russian troops on the front line near Vuhledar, a town in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on February 7, 2023 [File: Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Reuters]

According to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, in order for Russian forces to advance with their war campaign, they must take control of the strategically important Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. However, he added, they were up against heavy Ukrainian resistance.

In a rare interview with a Russian military reporter that was made public on Friday, Prigozhin said Russia needed to have clear objectives for its almost one-year war with Ukraine, either securely establishing its position in eastern Ukraine or advancing to conquer more of the nation. He added the success of those plans depended on the complete conquest of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin declared, “Bakhmut is required so that our forces can function comfortably.

“What does the name “meat grinder” mean? due to the Ukrainian army’s continued dispatch of more and more units.

Wagner mercenaries, many of whom were drafted from Russian prisons, have been heavily involved in the conflict in Ukraine, particularly last month when they took control of the town of Soledar, close to Bakhmut, which has been the scene of months of fighting and bombardment and is referred to by both sides as the “meat grinder.”

The Wagner chief remarked that it would be premature to declare that the capture of Bakhmut was imminent.

“There are many roads out and fewer roads in. Ukrainian troops are well trained … and like any large city, it is impossible to capture it from head-on. We are managing very well,” he added.

channel : aljazeera

He said, referring to Bakhmut by the name Moscow gave it during the Soviet era: “First, we have to quietly seize Artyomovsk, and then we can proclaim loud and clear that we have taken it.”

In a war where the front lines have seldom changed for months, the British defense ministry reported that Wagner forces looked to have advanced 2 to 3 kilometres (1 to 2 miles) near Bakhmut’s north since Tuesday. The primary western access road to Bakhmut was reportedly under attack from Wagner fighters, despite claims to the contrary by a Ukrainian military expert who said supplies were still getting through.

The UK ministry added that near Vuhledar, a Ukrainian stronghold that has served as a bridge between the southern and eastern fronts, Russian forces had achieved modest gains. But it also noted that the modest Russian successes there had probably been paid for dearly, with at least 30 armored vehicles being abandoned in one abortive attack.

Prigozhin also said the fighting to capture Soledar – undertaken after failures in taking Bakhmut – was comparable to the six months of battles needed for the Soviet army to secure Stalingrad during World War II. Prigozhin has harshly criticised the failings of the regular Russian army in its Ukraine offensive and engaged in a public dispute with Kremlin commanders when he maintained the battle for Soledar was exclusively waged by his Wagner forces after the regular army claimed the victory.

In comments apparently aimed at Russia’s defence establishment, Prigozhin complained in January about “infighting, corruption, bureaucracy and officials who want to stay in their positions”, as well as what he called constant attempts to “steal victory” from Wagner.

In January, the United States formally labelled the Wagner Group a “transnational criminal organization” and the European Union has accused Wagner forces of human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mozambique.

According to military analyst Oleh Zhdanov, the situation surrounding Bakhmut is likely still the most challenging that Ukraine’s soldiers are facing as Russia continues to send additional conscripts to swarm the city.

Zhdanov described the region south of Bakhmut as a “particularly challenging sector” in an online interview.

And right now, the city itself continues to be the hotspot on the front, he added.

channel : aljazeera

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, REUTERS ; Edited by News Gate Team

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