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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Zelensky’s aide explains two important Bakhmut goals

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Kiev troops are “surpassing” expectations in achieving two main goals in the ongoing fighting for the eastern city of Bakhmut, which has become a linchpin of Moscow’s renewed push. . gain more territory.

In conversation with the Italian newspaper The pressure, Podolyak confirmed that Ukrainian troops are preparing their own spring offensive, with the goal of starting the operation in about two months. At the moment, however, Kiev’s units are focused on bloody defense of the front line in Donetsk Oblast and other areas of heavy fighting in the south-east and north-east of the country.

There was some criticism of Kiev’s political and military leadership for the continued and costly defense of Bakhmut, which both Ukrainian and Western officials called not a very valuable strategic target. Podolyak explained, translated by the Kyiv Postthat Ukraine has two main ambitions for the months-long struggle.

“We have two goals: reduce their combat-ready personnel as much as possible and squeeze them into several key, grueling battles, disrupt their offensive, and focus our resources elsewhere for a spring counter-offensive,” Podolyak said.

The adviser also said that despite reported high casualties and the gradual advance of Russian troops – led by Wagner Group mercenaries – around the city, Ukrainian units were performing well, putting them at risk of a siege.

Ukrainian tactics, Podolyak said, are “quite effective today and surpass their main tasks”. He added that Russia’s casualty rate is five times that of Ukraine and estimates that Russia has lost around 40,000 dead and wounded in its efforts to capture the city of Bakhmut. Among them are some of Russia’s most elite units, Podolyak suggested.

“We are in no hurry, we will reorganize in the next two months,” said Podolyak about Kiev’s planned counter-offensive. “We will exhaust the Russians in Bakhmut and then concentrate elsewhere.”

Mark Voyger, a former special adviser on Russian and Eurasian affairs to then-US Army Europe commander Gen. Ben Hodges, said news week The recent focus on Bakhmut is a testament to Russia’s failure to conduct successful theater-level operations.

“The war has become so tactical that even a small town that should normally be a tactical target is in the news around the world,” says Voyger — now a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for European Analysis and a professor at the American University of Kyiv -called. “It has become a strategic goal, it’s like the Stalingrad of this war.”

news week emailed the Russian Ministry of Defense to solicit comment.

Incoming NATO heavy armaments will be key to Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive. Ukrainian troops are currently training on high-profile systems, including German-made Leopard 2 tanks and American-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, which Kiev and its western partners hope will help break through Russian lines in the spring.

Podolyak tells The pressure that Ukraine also needs long-range missiles to support the offensive, as well as an expanded stockpile of 155mm artillery shells. European nations are currently discussing plans to expand shell production and supplies to Ukraine, while the US has sent millions of its own stockpiled cartridges and refills from South Korea.

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