March 2. 2024. 2:02

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Ukraine war: Bakhmut counteroffensive starts soon - Ukrainian ground commander

Ukraine’s top ground forces commander said his forces would soon begin a counter offensive after withstanding Russia’s brutal winter campaign.

Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the front line of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, “are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam”.

“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said, listing Ukrainian counteroffensives last year that recaptured swathes of land.

There was no immediate response from Moscow, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin issued statements in recent days, warning of a Ukrainian counterassault.

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Ukraine war: Bakhmut counteroffensive starts soon — Ukrainian ground commander


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On Monday, Prigozhin published a letter to Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, saying Ukraine aimed to cut off Wagner’s forces from Russia’s regular troops.

At a Ukrainian-held village west of Soledar, on Bakhmut’s northern outskirts, the intensity of the Russian bombardment noticeably lessened from two days earlier.

Front lines in Ukraine have largely been frozen since November. Ukraine had looked likely to pull out of Bakhmut weeks ago but decided to fight on.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has renewed his call for more long-range weapons from western allies on Thursday.

Speaking to an EU summit via video link, the Ukrainian president recounted the “devastating” scenes he had witnessed close to the front lines, where fighting has been fiercest.

The EU leaders endorsed a plan – agreed by foreign ministers on Monday – to send a million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year.

Mr Zelenskiy visited the southern region of Kherson, where he toured infrastructure and promised to rebuild following Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s military said Russian forces had left the Kherson town of Nova Kakhovka but a Russian-installed official there denied it.

The EU leaders held talks on Thursday with UN secretary general, António Guterres, focused on global food security and sanctions imposed on Russia. – Guardian