Only a month after Ukraine's military General Staff confidently stated that any withdrawal of troops defending the 'meat grinder' stronghold o Bakhmut in the the nations eastern Donbas region, currently largely occupied by Russian forces was "out of the question," the narrative has suddenly shifted amid reports that the Russians are shelling Ukrainian positions around the clock, and independent reports say that throughout the months of fierce fighting around the city Ukrainian losses of personnel have been many times those of Russia's military. Simultaneously complaints from Ukrainian front line soldiers leaking out of he tightly controlled war reporting machinery tell of of not enough weapons or ammo supplies to keep pace with the Russians.
President Zelensky in fresh remarks on the situation has admitted for the first time that besieged Bakh mut is running out of options and Ukraine may soon have to withdraw its defending forces and surrender the city to the occupiers.
A CNN reporter revealed that Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut have described a worsening situation on the ground as Russian forces continue to apply pressure to capture the city.
“The situation in Bakhmut is very difficult now. It is much worse than officially reported,” a soldier who didn’t want to be named told CNN on Tuesday. “We should add another 100% difficulty to the official reports. In all directions. Especially in the northern direction, where the orcs [Russians] have made the biggest advance.”
The soldier refuted Russian claims that Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut had been cut off and were unable to get supplies into the city.
“The Khromove [settlement] is the key for the defense of the city. When it is captured, only one Bakhmut - Kostiantynivka road will remain to supply the city,” the soldier explained. “It is already under the enemy's fire control, and if the enemy captures it, supplies will be impossible.”
the obvious difficulties, the soldier said Ukrainian forces would continue to defend the city
as long as possible. “The city will be defended until the end, no
matter what. We all understand that we are holding on and dying to win time for a
counteroffensive in the spring,” the soldier also said. “We cannot give
up every city without a fight,” he said.
Another soldier referenced only by his call-sign Kyivan, described a similar situation in a video posted on social media.
“As of the morning of February 28, the situation around the defense of Bakhmut is quite difficult,” Kyivan, who used to be based in Bakhmut said, citing information he is getting from colleagues inside the city. A third soldier speaking alongside Kyivan described the battles in Bakhmut as “hellish,” but added that Ukrainian soldiers were “holding everything.”
Such loyalty to the cause is understandable when so many comrades have laid down their lives in the 'meat grinder' of Bakhmut but there have been conflicting reports of gun battles deep within the city itself, as Russian forces have it nearly fully encircled, and move in to mop up pockets of resistance as the NY Times also confirms:
Reuters too, for so long faithful to the narrative of Ukrainian success has, for the first time presented a headline on Tuesday which put the situation for the Ukrainian defenders in stark terms: "Russians tighten noose on Ukraine's Bakhmut," the news service reported.
On Monday Zelensky had described that "The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions for fortification and defense. Our soldiers defending the area around Bakhmut are true heroes." Some soldiers cited in local reports are vowing to fight till the end, as military reports get more and more desperate.
It may seem foolishly heroic of the Ukrainians to have held on so long when it was clearly inevitable months ago that Bakhmut must fall, but while the official narrative has been that the city is of little importance, military experts have said it is the key to Russia's securing the whole of eastern Ukraine. The next few weeks will reveal who is right on that.
Within the past days he also said for the first time that he won't seek to hold the city "at any cost" - which is an oblique way of admitting Ukraine has suffered a staggering loss in manpower in its efforts to defend the city.
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