Russian forces are stepping up their offensive around Bakhmut, trying to besiege the small mining town. Rain and early spring thaw could turn eastern Ukraine’s battlefields into mud, leaving both sides with hamstrings to gain the upper hand in the war.
The spring thaw, known as “Rasputitsa,” has a long history of undermining plans by military forces to attack Ukraine and western Russia, turning roads into rivers and fields into impenetrable swamps.
In the Donetsk region near the front, sudden warming softened the frozen ground, forcing Ukrainian soldiers to hide in muddy trenches.
“As you can see, spring means mud, so the sides stay in position. Mikola said while looking at the tablet screen for coordinates to fire.
In trenches dug deep into the ground in a zigzag, Volodymyr, a 25-year-old platoon leader, said his men were ready to carry out the operation in any weather.
“Given a target, it must be destroyed,” he said.
Russia has surrounded Bakhmut and wants to withdraw its garrison to Ukraine. It would be the first major victory for Moscow in more than half a year after one of the bloodiest phases of the war so far, a relentless Russian attack that began in the dead of winter when the ground froze.
“The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to defend our positions for fortification and defense. Our soldiers defending the area around Bakhmut are true heroes,” he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.
Russia has stepped up its offensive in several locations along its eastern front, benefiting from hundreds of thousands of reservists called up late last year.
The West says some Russian offensives have failed, but their forces are trying to cut off Ukrainian forces inside the devastated city, which once housed about 75,000 people, so Bakhmut’s death toll at the latest It reveals that it is advancing north and south.
“Fierce fighting is taking place there. The command is doing everything possible to prevent the enemy from passing through our territory,” said Serhiy, spokesman for the Eastern Command of Ukraine. Cherevati told Ukrainian television, describing the situation around Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Moscow said on Monday that it had destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot near Bakhmut and shot down a US-made rocket and a Ukrainian drone. We were unable to independently verify the reports.
Two dead in Russian drone attack
Meanwhile, in the western Ukraine city of Khmelnytsky, Russia attacked an Iranian-made drone early Monday morning, killing two and wounding three, the mayor said.
Mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn said in a social media message that two rescue workers died in hospital after the attack by more than a dozen drones.
“Unfortunately there is another hospital death,” he said in a second statement after reporting the first death. I could not do it.”
The victims are 21-year-old Vladislav Dvorak and 31-year-old Sergiy Sevrk, Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klimenko said on Facebook.
Two rescuers responded to the first wave of attacks, “the enemy deliberately opened fire on our hero again, without weapons,” Klimenko said.
Russian forces said they attacked a special operations command near the city of Khmelnytsky.
Yellen of Kyiv
In Kiev, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the Ukrainian capital as a senior Western official, promising help and further steps to isolate Russia. US President Joe Biden visited there a week ago to mark the first anniversary of the start of the war.
“The United States will stand by Ukraine as long as it needs to,” Yellen said across a sandbag at the Cabinet Office.
Yellen announced the transfer of the first $1.25 billion from the latest $9.9 billion economic and budget assistance package from Washington and visited schools where teacher salaries are paid with U.S. aid.
The Ukrainian military, which has focused primarily on holding defensive positions in recent weeks, is expected to launch a counterattack using new weapons promised by the West.
“I really want [victory] It will happen sometime this year,” Zelenskyy said in a post on the Telegram messaging app on Monday. “We have everything for that: motivation, confidence, friends, diplomacy.”
The first anniversary of the end of the war last week saw efforts by both sides to signal their commitment to a second year of war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the invasion, made a major speech, abandoning the nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States, but announced no major initiatives to change the course of the war.
China, which last week sent its chief diplomat to Moscow to show its support for Russia, issued a call for peace.
The move was met with skepticism by the West, but was generally welcomed by both Kiev and Moscow. Washington has recently said it fears China will send weapons to Russia, a claim Beijing denies.
Russia claims the aggression was justified by security threats posed by Ukraine. Kiev calls it a one-sided attempt to conquer an independent state.
Last year, outnumbered Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack on Kiev and recaptured a significant portion of its territory, but Russia continues to make up almost a fifth of Ukraine it claims to have annexed. .
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides are believed to have been killed.