On the 6th, Ukraine announced its intention to defend Bahmut, a battleground in the eastern battleground surrounded by Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised speech that day that “there is no abandoned area in Ukraine” and that “the leadership unanimously agreed to the position of strengthening the current posture without withdrawing from Bahmut.”
“I have instructed the commander-in-chief to find units to help our soldiers in Bahmut,” he added.
The Office of the President of Ukraine issued a statement earlier today and announced at a regular meeting of the General Staff presided over by President Zelensky that it had decided to continue the operation to defend Bakhmut and strengthen the current positions of the troops.
At the meeting, he explained that they also discussed ways to efficiently supply weapons and equipment to the Bahmut operation area.
■ “Request to provide cluster munitions”
Ukrainian authorities have asked the United States to provide cluster munitions that can be dropped by drones, Reuters reported, citing two members of Congress.
When the mother body of the cluster bomb is destroyed in the air, hundreds of small bombs inside are scattered around the target, killing an unspecified number of people. It is considered a representative inhumane weapon because it aims to kill a large number of people in a large area. Its use has been banned since the Oslo Convention came into force in 2010.
More than 120 countries have signed the Oslo Treaty, but Russia, Ukraine and the United States have not.
On February 24 last year, the Russian military, which invaded Ukraine from the front, used cluster bombs several times in densely populated areas, announced through the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty.
■ US defense “more symbolic than strategic”
Bakhmut is a small town in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, which emerged as one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the war.
Yevgeny Prigozin, the real owner of the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary company that is leading the attack in the region, asked President Zelensky to withdraw Ukrainian troops on the 3rd, saying that Bakhmut was virtually surrounded.
It was also reported that there was only one road left to supply the Ukrainian army to the west.
As the Russian regular army and the Wagner group surrounded the area on three sides and the possibility of capture increased, the Ukrainian army’s ‘strategic withdrawal theory’ was raised, but President Zelensky and Ukrainian authorities announced on the 6th that they would continue to defend.
However, military experts have recently been voicing that it is not worth holding on to Bahmut at the cost of further troop losses.
Analysts say that the Ukrainian army’s relentless defense of Bahmut has already paid off in that it has inflicted huge losses on troops and ammunition to the Russian army.
US officials also supported this observation.
“The fall of Bahmut will not necessarily mean that Russia has turned the tide in this fight,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on the 6th.
“I think (Bahmut) has more symbolic value than strategic and operational value,” he said.
Austin also pointed out that Russia “continues to deploy untrained and underequipped (mercenary-led) troops” in Bahmut.
Ukraine, on the other hand, is patiently building its combat capability elsewhere, with Western military aid, in advance of a major spring offensive, Austin said.
■ During reinforcement activities
There are also claims that Ukrainian forces have actually already begun a gradual withdrawal.
While the Ukrainian side has recently sent reinforcements to the site, analysis follows that their mission is to support and escort the retreating headquarters.
This is VOA News Jongsu Oh.