The Lugansk militia officer said that Russian forces were fighting fiercely around Bakhmut, aiming to close the grip on the city.
“Fighting battles are going on in Bakhmut, groups of troops are closing their pincers around the city and approaching Chasov Yar. The objective is to destroy Ukrainian artillery and infantry deployed from Chasov Yar, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, as well as to destroy the Ukrainian artillery and infantry deployed from Chasov Yar, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, like disrupting the enemy’s supply lines,” Vitaly Kiselev, a colonel of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) militia, said today.
Colonel Kiselev said that the operation around Bakhmut was carried out by Russia’s Wagner private security group and that they would not rush to attack the inner city. “Russian artillery and air force are conducting precision strikes on enemy positions. I think the attempt to deploy Ukrainian extremist nationalist forces to the region will fail,” he said.
The LPR officer said that Ukrainian field commanders and military leaders are trying to convince President Volodymyr Zelensky to order the withdrawal of forces from Bakhmut. “It seems that they will gradually withdraw their main forces at some point, just re-planting territorial defense units that have no combat experience,” Kiselev said.
Ukrainian officials have not commented on the report.
The Russian military earlier announced the “liberation of the village of Blahodatne” in the Donetsk region after successful attacks. The village of Blahodatne is located near the newly controlled Russian city of Soledar, and is close to the highway leading to Bakhmut.
Russia has been trying to control Bakhmut for months with some of the heaviest fighting in the Donbass region. The Russian Defense Ministry on January 30 announced the start of an offensive against Ugledar, a city located south of Bakhmut, occupying many favorable positions and causing damage to the 1st Ukrainian Tank Brigade.
British intelligence said that Russian forces carried out attacks around Ugledar and Pavlivka to open a new axis of attack in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on January 29 that the situation on the eastern front was “very difficult”, with Bakhmut, Ugledar and other areas in Donetsk being under constant Russian attack.
Vu Anh (Theo TASS, Reuters)