KYIV, March 13 (AP) — Russia’s progress appears to be stalling in Moscow’s campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a leading think tank said in its assessment of the war’s longest ground battle.
The Washington-based Institute for War Research said Russian forces had made no progress at Bakhmut. The ISW said Russian forces and forces from the Kremlin-controlled paramilitary Wagner Group continued their ground assault on the city, but there was no evidence they were able to make any headway.
Read also | Pakistan’s Election Commission suspends elections for 37 parliamentary seats.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, said Sunday on the Telegram messaging app that the situation in Bahmut was “difficult, very difficult, the enemy is racing against time”.
The ISW report released on Saturday quoted Serhii Cherevaty, spokesman for the eastern bloc of Ukraine’s armed forces, as saying that fighting in the Bakhmut region this week was more intense than the previous week. According to Cherevaty, there were 23 clashes in the city in the past 24 hours.
Read also | Silicon Valley Bank collapse: More than 100,000 jobs at risk, 10,000 startups face payroll failure, Y Combinator CEO tells US Treasury secretary.
The ISW report follows claims earlier this week that Russia had made progress. The Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that paramilitary forces from the Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group had taken over much of eastern Bakhmut, with a river that flows through the city now serving as a fighting front. The assessment emphasized that the Russian attack would be unsustainable without further loss of life.
The mining city of Bahmut is located in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, one of four regions of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last year. The Russian military began its campaign for control of Bakhmut in August, with staggering casualties on both sides. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed not to retreat.
The UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest report on Sunday that the impact of the heavy Russian military casualties in Ukraine had varied widely across Russia. The latest intelligence from the British military says Moscow and St Petersburg remain “relatively unscathed”, especially among the Russian elite.
However, the UK Foreign Office said that in many parts of eastern Russia the death rate as a percentage of the population was “30 to 40 times higher than in Moscow”. It added that ethnic minorities were often the hardest hit. In the southern region of Astrakhan, for example, “approximately 75 percent of the casualties were ethnic Kazakhs and Tatars.”
The War Institute said Russia’s mounting casualties reflected the government’s loss of control over the country’s information sphere. The think tank said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed “infighting within the Kremlin circle” and that the Kremlin had effectively relinquished control of the country’s information space, which Putin could not easily regain.
ISW found Zakharova’s comments at a Moscow forum on “Practical and Technical Aspects of Information and Cognitive Warfare in Modern Realities” to be “notable” and in line with the think tank’s longstanding criticism of “the deteriorating Kremlin regime.” and information space control dynamics.”
In a separate statement on Sunday, Zakharova said the next round of talks to extend the Black Sea grain deal would take place in Geneva on Monday. The Russian delegation is expected to meet with senior UN officials. The deal is currently set to expire on March 18.
The wartime agreement, which lifted a blockade on Ukrainian grain exports and helped moderate global food price increases, was last extended for four months in November.
Ukraine and Russia signed agreements with the United Nations and Turkey, respectively, on July 22 to establish safe shipping corridors and inspection procedures in the Black Sea to address concerns that cargo ships could carry weapons or launch attacks.
Ukraine and Russia are major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food products to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, where millions of poor people go hungry. Russia was also the world’s largest fertilizer exporter before the war.
The loss of those supplies after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 pushed up global food prices and heightened fears of a hunger crisis in poorer countries.
Zelensky said on Sunday he had posthumously awarded the highest national title “Hero of Ukraine” to a soldier believed to have been killed by a Russian-speaking man. Zelenskyy identified him as Oleksandr Matsiyevsky, although the Ukrainian military had previously given the soldier a different name pending final confirmation.
A brief video that emerged this month and sparked nationwide protests in Ukraine showed a man standing in the woods smoking a cigarette and chanting “Glory to Ukraine” before being shot dead. Senior Ukrainian officials claimed, without providing further evidence, that the man was an unarmed prisoner of war killed by Russian soldiers.
Matsiyevsky was “a Ukrainian fighter. He will always be known and remembered, Zelenskyy said. Ukraine’s State Security Service, the SBU, said Matsiyevsky had served as a sniper and was shot dead on Dec. 30. (AP society)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)