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Kiev Launches Counter-Attack Amidst Tolling Losses at Battle of Bakhmut

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On Sunday, Ukraine was planning to launch a counterattack in the volatile city of Bakhmut as its army defended itself from the fierce and sustained Russian attacks needed to “buy time” for the push.

The comments by a senior Ukrainian commander came as British intelligence said the front line had shifted in the fighting for Bakhmut – the longest and bloodiest battle of the year-long invasion of Moscow – but that any further Russian advance into the devastated city would be “extremely difficult”.

Some military experts questioned the sense of continuing to hold the city, but the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Sersky, said it helped buy time to prepare for the upcoming counterattack.

“The real heroes now are the defenders who hold the Eastern Front on their shoulders and cause as many losses as possible, sparing neither themselves nor the enemy,” Cirsky was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday.

“It is necessary to gain time to build up reserves and launch a counterattack, which is not far off.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, said in a video posted on Saturday that his forces were close to the city’s administrative center.

Standing on the roof of a tall building in what is said to be Bakhmut, Prigozhin is seen pointing at a building in the distance.

“This is the city administration building, this is the city centre,” he said, dressed in full military gear.

“It’s 1 kilometer 200 meters away.”

Prigozhin, speaking as artillery blared in the background, said the most important thing now was to receive more ammunition from the army and “move forward”.

Wagner leads attacks against cities in eastern Ukraine, including Bakhmut. Both sides have suffered heavy losses.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Saturday that its forces had repulsed “more than 100 enemy attacks” during the last day along the eastern front.

killing zone

In an interview with France’s Journal du Dimanche, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanyshina emphasized the human cost of the Russian attack on Bakhmut.

She added that “thousands of Russian soldiers were killed at a high rate in this battle.” “The human mass of the infantry is a formidable weapon, seemingly inexhaustible in size and time.”

She added that even if it captured the “small town”, it “would not affect the strategic corridors that we still control in the region”.

British military intelligence said the Pakhmutka River in the city center now represented the front line.

The British Ministry of Defense said that “Ukrainian forces control the west of the city and demolished the main bridges over the river, which runs from north to south across a strip of open land 200 meters – 800 meters wide.”

“This area has become a killing zone, making it likely a major challenge for Wagner’s forces trying to continue their frontal offensive westward.”

Wagner’s boss, Prigozhin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, has been embroiled in a power struggle with the Defense Ministry.

Several times he announced his victories on the battlefield to the Russian army, criticized the country’s senior officers and accused the army of not sharing ammunition with Wagner’s forces.

On Saturday, he said he was ready to ask forgiveness from Russia’s top leaders, but at the same time appeared to mock Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

He said they were “outstanding military leaders” and added that Russia’s greatest military leaders including Georgy Zhukov and Alexander Suvorov “could have learned” from them.

“I fully – completely – support all their initiatives,” Prigozhin added.

Kherson bombing

Since Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson late last year, the city has been bombed regularly by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that the Russian military continued its shelling of the southern city, killing three people and wounding two others.

“Russian terrorists are bombing Kherson again,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, said, posting a picture of firefighters near a charred car.

Galina Kolesnik, 53, said the Russians beat her while she was in a store.

“When we entered, literally five minutes later this tragedy happened,” she told AFP.

“The explosions started, and our car crashed,” she said. “This is horrible.”

Kherson is the capital of one of the four regions – along with Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia – that Russia claims to have annexed but does not fully control.

The separatist mayor of Donetsk, Alexei Kolmzin, said on Saturday that the Ukrainian bombing had killed two people, including a young boy.

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