(AFP) The fight for control of the Ukrainian locality of Bakhmut, for months the scene of fierce fighting, is not close to ending, despite Russian advances – said the director of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Located in the east of the territory, Bakhmut has been the target of one of the longest Russian offensives in the country since the operation began almost a year ago.
Experts consider that the position is not strategic, but has acquired symbolic and political value. Moreover, it lies in the industrial region of Donetsk, over which Moscow intends to have full control.
“Bakhmut will not be taken tomorrow, because there is strong resistance, shelling, a working meat grinder,” he said, referring to the considerable losses on the battlefield.
“We will not celebrate yet,” Prigozhin declared.
Wagner has recruited thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine and has been leading the offensive in Bakhmut since the summer (northern hemisphere). Recently, he has managed to occupy nearby positions to try to encircle the city.
Prigozhin also admitted on Tuesday (14) to being the creator of a “troll factory,” paid to run Internet campaigns.
The Russian businessman admitted that he is the founder of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Petersburg, dubbed the “troll factory” by the Russian press.
The employees of this entity are accused of launching disinformation campaigns on the Internet at the service of the Kremlin.
U.S. awards $2.7 billion munitions contract to Ukraine
The United States Army announced on Tuesday (14) that it has awarded $522 million in orders to two companies to manufacture 155mm artillery ammunition for Ukraine.
The orders, officially decided on January 30, went to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Global Military Products Inc. and come amid concerns that Ukraine was quickly running out of artillery projectile ammunition from the United States and other allies.
Deliveries of new ammunition are scheduled to begin in March of this year, the U.S. Army said in a statement.
The contract is funded by the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
Ukraine and Russia have fired immense amounts of artillery ammunition at each other since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago.
In November, a U.S. official said that Russian forces were firing about 20,000 artillery shells a day.
Ukraine’s capacity was between 4,000 and 7,000 rounds of projectiles per day, faster than the rate at which allied Western manufacturers can produce them.
That capacity has since fallen, just as winter has set in and both sides are facing a shortage and trying to conserve ammunition.
“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition, and depleting allied stocks,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured on Monday.