Chris Lange, FISM News
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed Monday to continue the fight for the Bakhmut, the salt-mining city in Ukraine’s south that the Russians have struggled to capture for six months in brutal combat that has claimed thousands of lives.
The remark was a sharp pivot from the Ukrainian leader’s comment made less than a week prior in which he said that Kyiv’s military commanders were contemplating a retreat to nearby positions.
The Associated Press reported that Zelenskyy’s departure from his prior statement was occasioned by a meeting with top military officials, whom he said, “spoke in favor of continuing the defense operation and further strengthening our positions in Bakhmut.” Hours later, Zelenskyy reported in his nightly video address to the nation that his advisors had unanimously agreed “not to retreat” and to instead continue bolstering Ukrainian defenses.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the news service that Ukrainian forces around Bakhmut continued degrading enemy forces and reinforcing their positions. Podolyak added that tens of thousands of Kyiv’s troops were being trained for a possible counteroffensive.
UKRAINE STRUGGLES TO RESUPPLY BAKHMUT FIGHTERS
Britain’s Ministry of Defense reported Tuesday in its daily war assessment that Ukraine has struggled to resupply Bakhmut fighters following a Russian strike last Thursday that destroyed a bridge over the city’s only paved supply road. The Ministry said resupply efforts were likely further hampered by muddy conditions in the area since Ukrainian forces had to rely on unpaved routes to transport supplies.
The update indicated further that “[p]ublic disagreements between the Wagner Group and Russian Ministry of Defense over the allocation of munitions highlights the difficulty in sustaining the high levels of personnel and ammunition required to advance with their current tactics.” FISM reported on Monday that Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin had accused the Kremlin of withholding promised munitions.
Ukraine’s military command reported killing 1,600 Russians in under 24 hours in the ongoing battle for Bakhmut, per Reuters. The news service noted that reporters have been unable to access the city for about a week and therefore could not verify the report.
RESIDENTS EVACUATED FROM CHASIV YAR
The nearby towns of Chasiv Yar and Kostiantynivka, meanwhile, came under heavy shelling overnight, though no casualties were immediately reported.
Police and volunteers evacuated residents from Chasiv Yar and additional front-line towns, made difficult by near-constant artillery fire and the loss of bridges.
RUSSIA, US QUIBBLE OVER STRATEGIC VALUE OF BAKHMUT
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu refuted Western assessments that Bakhmut is of little strategic value in the war, asserting that its capture will allow Moscow’s forces to seize the surrounding Donbas region — a key objective in Putin’s war.
“The liberation of Artemovsk continues,” Shoigu said in televised remarks, referring to the Russian name for Bakhmut.
“The city is an important hub for defending Ukrainian troops in the Donbas. Taking it under control will allow further offensive actions to be conducted deep into Ukraine’s defensive lines.”
Western strategists have argued that the decimated city has limited value and that Russia is likely aiming for a symbolic victory following a multitude of humiliating setbacks in its “special military operation’ that has ground into its 13th month.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Monday that Bakhmut has “more of a symbolic value” than a “strategic and operational value” for Russia during a visit to Jordan, per the AP report.
VIDEO ALLEGEDLY SHOWS EXECUTION OF UNARMED UKRAINIAN POW
A video recently surfaced that appeared to show Russian soldiers gunning down an unarmed Ukrainian war prisoner.
The man, dressed in a uniform bearing the Ukrainian insignia “Glory to Ukraine” can be seen standing alone before shots ring out and he slumps to the ground. A voice can be heard saying “Die, bitch” in Russian. Ukraine’s military identified the soldier as Bakhmut fighter Tymofiy Shadura, who went missing on Feb. 3
“I want us all in unity to respond to his words: ‘Glory to the hero. Glory to the heroes. Glory to Ukraine.’ And we will find the murderers,” Zelenskyy said in his televised address.
RUSSIAN TROOPS COMPLAIN OF POOR TREATMENT, LACK OF EQUIPMENT
Russian soldiers have increasingly released videos of themselves complaining of poor treatment, no training, and lack of adequate gear which appear to substantiate similar widespread reports from Western media outlets and military analysts.
Newsweek reported that a number of soldiers have taken to social media to air their grievances against Putin’s military command in Ukraine, claiming that they are treated poorly and sent into battle with no clear purpose and little-to-no training or equipment.
In one such clip that appeared on the Telegram messaging app, an alleged soldier stood in front of a group of his uniformed comrades and said that they had been sent into the Donetsk province and told to “storm villages … without orders or explanations.” He went on to complain that they lacked equipment, communications, and even basic maps of the area. The soldier declared that he refused to carry out his orders because of heavy losses.
“Personnel is dying,” he said. “This is all that’s left of my platoon.”
In a separate video addressed directly to Putin, newly conscripted soldiers stationed in Russia’s Orenburg region said they were being sent to the frontlines as cannon fodder. One of the men said troops were being told that they would be engaged in territorial defense when they were actually being sent to Donetsk and handed over to local militia commanders.
He went on to say that he and his fellow draftees lacked the skills or training to participate in assaults. He also complained of a lack of communications and reconnaissance support and said that soldiers were being supplied with sub-par artillery. The video concluded with the man demanding that he and his comrades be returned to Russian command.