Kiev's troops fight in Bakhmut to 'buy time' ahead of Spring offensive
Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin said that Russian forces are currently located 1.2 kilometers from the administrative center of Bakhmut.
Ukraine's Commander of the Eastern Group of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Saturday that troops have been fighting in Bakhmut, also known as Artyomovsk, for the sole purpose of buying more time before the start of Kiev's spring offensive.
"We must buy us some time to bring in reserves and begin the spring counteroffensive, which is nearing," Syrskyi was quoted as saying by the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The words of Syrskyi contradict what the Ukrainian President said a few days ago, as Zelensky emphasized the strategic importance of Bakhmut, saying that the road would be open East in case the city falls to the Russians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had highlighted the possible scenarios in the event that Russian forces capture Bakhmut during an interview for CNN on march 8th, warning that Russian forces could go further.
"They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk, it would be an open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction."
Zelensky also told CNN on Wednesday that his forces are to stay in Bakhmut.
"Of course, we have to think about the lives of our military. But we have to do whatever we can whilst we're getting weapons, and supplies and our army is getting ready for the counter-offensive."
Meanwhile, the founder of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin said that Russian forces are currently located 1.2 kilometers from the administrative center of Bakhmut.
"That's about a five-story building where the smoke comes from - the building of the city administration, the administrative center of the city. It's one kilometer and two hundred meters away," Prigozhin said in a video published on Telegram on Saturday from the positions of Russian forces in Bakhmut.
The message was accompanied by a video showing the former main fortified areas of the Kiev's armed forces, noting that Ukrainians will attempt to carry out a counteroffensive from the north of the city.
Prigozin standing on building in Bakhmut 800 m from Ukrainian positions.Whole interview is like live, where he answered several questions and accusations against him (of course trolling). Video recorded that every position can be geolocated... pic.twitter.com/jNFbPSpjok— ZOKA (@200_zoka) March 11, 2023
"It is important for us that the fighters cover our flanks. If the flanks are covered, then everything is in order," Prigozhin added.
Bakhmut, or Artyomovsk, is located in the Donetsk People's Republic and constitutes a significant transport hub for supplying Ukrainian forces with their needs in Donbass.
Over the past few months, Russian forces have managed almost completely encircle the city.
This has made it more difficult for Ukrainian troops to receive ammunition and recruits.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said last week that the command would send additional units to fight in Bakhmut.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 8 that the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut might fall into Russian hands in a few days.