Heavy losses reported as battle for Bakhmut rages

Ukraine and Russia have reported inflicting heavy losses as the battle for Bakhmut rages on.

Moscow has been trying to take the eastern Ukrainian city for months in a grinding war of attrition.

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Russian forces had suffered more than 1,100 deaths in the past few days, with many more seriously injured.

Russia said it had killed more than 220 Ukrainian ser­vice members over the past 24 hours. The BBC is unable to verify the numbers given by either side.

Analysts say Bakhmut has little strategic value, but has become a focal point for Russian com­manders who have struggled to deliver any positive news to the Kremlin.

Capture of the city would bring Russia slightly closer to its goal of con­trolling the whole of Donetsk region, one of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine annexed by Russia last September following referendums wide­ly condemned outside Russia as a sham.

Ukrainian commanders, who have committed significant resources to de­fending the city, say their strategy aims to tie Russia’s forces down and prevent Moscow from launching any further offensives in the coming months.

“In less than a week, starting from March 6, we managed to kill more than 1,100 enemy soldiers in the Bakhmut sector alone, Russia’s irreversible loss, right there, near Bakhmut,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

He added that 1,500 Russian soldiers were wounded badly enough to keep them out of further action.

Russia’s defence ministry said Russian forces had killed “more than 220 Ukrainian servicemen”.

The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said the Russian mercenary Wagner Group was attacking his troops from several di­rections in a bid to break through defences and advance to the central districts of the town. —BBC

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