After weeks of statements encouraging the tenacity of his forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted on Saturday evening, in his daily address to the Ukrainian people, that the situation was becoming more complicated on the immense front in the northeast of the country.
“During these 346 days of war, I often had to say that the situation at the front was difficult.
And the situation was getting more and more difficult.
Now is the time again.
A moment when the occupier launches more and more of its forces to break our defenses.
Now it is very difficult in Bakhmout, Vuhledar, near Lyman, and in other directions,” he acknowledged.
The Ukrainian president wore a sweatshirt proclaiming his belonging to the country, while he stripped their citizenship of former ministers who had dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship and had participated in a pro-Russian government.
Bakhmut in 'growing isolation'
In its daily update this Sunday, the British Ministry of Defense estimates that after "small advances" by Russian forces in their attempts to encircle Bakhmut, "the two main roads leading to the city for the Ukrainian defenders are now all two threatened by direct fire”.
Wagner's paramilitaries have taken a side road that connects Siversk to the hotly contested Bakhmut, contributing to its "growing isolation".
Latest Defense Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 5 February 2023
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/GXvI2wG4B6
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— Ministry of Defense 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) February 5, 2023
Despite the fierce resistance of Ukrainian troops, who have been recording losses no doubt as high as Russian forces for months in the region, the situation in the locality, considered a key to Donetsk, is complicated by the fate of its neighbor Soledar, whose the salt mines provide an entry point into Bakhmut.
But while observers have been saying for weeks that Russia cannot win the war this winter, which explains why it is concentrating its artillery efforts on energy installations across the country, Moscow is redeploying thousands of soldiers in south-eastern Ukraine, particularly towards Vuhledar, near the only railway line linking Crimea to the Donbass region.
What Zelensky acknowledged by saying that Russia "increasingly launches its forces to break our defenses".
"The Russians are not trying to break through the defenses of Vuhledar, but are trying to encircle the city from two sides," the city's deputy mayor, Maksym Verbovsky, told Ukrainian media Suspline on Friday.