The Commercial Appeal
Russia pushes advance on Bakhmut
KYIV, Ukraine – Fierce battles raged outside Bakhmut as Russian forces pushed their advance on the eastern city with heavy shelling and infantry attacks, Ukraine’s presidential office said Monday, with at least five civilians killed and as many wounded in action across the war-torn country in the last 24 hours.
The presidential office said the situation in Bakhmut’s northern suburb of Paraskoviivka is “difficult” as Russian forces continued to pummel the area with “intense shelling and storming actions.” The nearby town of Vuhledar is also under heavy bombardment.
Ukrainian soldiers began training on Leopard 2 battle tanks, Germany’s Defense Ministry spokeswoman Nadine
Krueger said in Berlin. Germany pledged to deliver 14 of the tanks to Ukraine by the end of March.
Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg again urged Ukraine’s Western allies to ramp up their military support. Asked Monday when he expects Russia’s socalled spring offensive to begin, Stoltenberg said that “the reality is that we have seen the start already.”
“For me, this just highlights the importance of timing. It’s urgent to provide Ukraine with more weapons,” he said. Stoltenberg said NATO sees “no sign whatsoever that President Putin is preparing for peace” and that arming Ukraine more quickly could save lives by bringing a quicker end to the conflict.
Russian forces shelled a dozen cities and villages in the Donetsk region in the last 24 hours including in Druzhkivka, where a missile hit a hospital, and in
Pokrovsk, where shelling damaged seven houses and a kindergarten.
“The shelling intensifies, and the Russians accumulate more forces for an attack on peaceful cities,” Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said. “We’re seeing a very tough battle in which the Russians aren’t sparing neither themselves, nor us.”
In the neighboring Luhansk region, Russian troops pulled back after several days of intense fighting near the key city of Kreminna, although they’re not “running out of steam,” Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai told Ukrainian television.
In the partially occupied southern region of Kherson, artillery fire hit more than 20 cities and villages over the past 24 hours, including the regional capital of the same name that was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in November. Two men were killed in one of the villages when their car ran over a landmine.
In the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk region, Russian shelling of the city of Nikopol killed one person and wounded two others. The shelling damaged a residential building, a water treatment facility and a college.
Meanwhile, the U.K. Defense Ministry said Russian forces are bolstering defensive fortifications on the edge of the battlefront in southern Ukraine to protect their flank, despite their focus on the Donbas region.
“This is demonstrated by continued construction of defensive fortifications in Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk oblasts and deployment of personnel,” the Ministry said in a briefing Monday.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued another warning to U.S. citizens not to travel to Russia for fear of harassment or detention, and urged them to leave immediately if they have to travel there.