If Russian troops capture Bakhmut, the Russian president will use it to exert pressure and intensify the offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells the Associated Press.
“If he feels some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push,” Zelenskyy said.
Putin can “sell the capture of Bakhmut as a victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” the president emphasized.
The Russians intensified their attempts to capture the town more than two months ago when they deployed the most trained mercenaries of the Wagner Group and intensified their assaults. The enemy has suffered heavy losses, but the fight for the town requires extraordinary efforts from the Defence Forces.
In early March, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyy and the Commander of the Khortytsya Operational and Strategic Grouping Oleksandr Syrskyy supported the continuation of the defence operation and further strengthening of Ukrainian positions in Bakhmut.
Thanks to the courage and professionalism of the Ukrainian army, the enemy has not yet managed to occupy Bakhmut completely. In March, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported for the first time that Russia was losing its offensive potential in the Bakhmut sector. However, the town remains the epicentre of the fighting.