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Fighting in Bakhmut ‘very tough,’ Zelensky says

By Julia Shapero,

2023-03-14

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday night that fighting in Bakhmut and throughout eastern Ukraine remains “very tough.”

“It is very tough in the east, very painful,” Zelensky said in his nightly address to the Ukrainian people. “We need to destroy the enemy’s military might, and we will. Bilohorivka and Maryinka, Avdiivka and Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Kamyanka — and all other places where our future is being decided. Where our future, the future of all Ukrainians, is being fought for.”

Russia’s advance in Bakhmut appears to have stalled in recent days, despite indications earlier this month that the town was on the brink as Ukrainian officials considered a retreat.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the mercenary Wagner Group leading the Russian effort in Bakhmut, said on Sunday that the situation is “difficult, very difficult, with the enemy fighting for each meter,” per The Associated Press .

Zelensky also noted on Sunday that Russia is suffering heavy losses in Bakhmut, with Ukrainian forces killing more than 1,100 Russian soldiers and injuring an additional 1,500 troops with “wounds incompatible with continuing fighting” over the last week.

“I am grateful to every warrior of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, our intelligence — the Shaman fighters, the National Guard, our border guards — everyone who is really fighting for Ukrainian land, for Bakhmut,” Zelensky said on Sunday.

However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned last week that despite heavy Russian losses, “we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days.”

“Over the last weeks and months, we have seen fierce fighting in and around Bakhmut, and what we see is that Russia is storming in more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality, they try to make up in quantity,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

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