May 8 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s top commander in charge of defending the besieged city said late Sunday that Russia was stepping up artillery fire on Bakhmut in hopes of capturing it by Tuesday. and vowed to do everything possible to prevent it.
Russia’s Victory Day is May 9 and is one of the country’s most celebrated holidays, commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany.
Ukrainian ground forces commander General Oleksandr Shirsky said the Russian army was reorganizing its forces, increasing the intensity of its heavy artillery shelling of the city and starting to use more advanced equipment.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.
“Today, it’s important to make decisions and anticipate the actions of the enemy as quickly as possible,” Silski said on the Telegram channel after visiting troops along Bakhmut’s front line.
“The Russians still want to capture the city by May 9. Our job is to prevent this.”
The battle for the city, once inhabited by 70,000 people, is of symbolic importance to both sides, and after more than ten months of intense fighting between regular Russian forces and Wagner’s mercenary forces, Ukraine is still holding some ground. It holds some part.
Moscow sees Bakhmut as a springboard to attack other Ukrainian cities. Kiev has previously said that maintaining Bakhmut’s defenses would allow the army to prepare for an expected counterattack.
Wagner’s chief of staff Evgeny Prigozin appeared to back off plans to withdraw from Bakhmut on Sunday, with Mr. Shirsky saying the increase in fighting was “not intended by the enemy to change plans, keeping Bakhmut under control and aggressive.” It shows that they are doing everything possible to continue their behavior.”
Reported by Lydia Kelly of Melbourne. Edited by Lisa Shumaker
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