Ukraine announced an imminent counteroffensive in Bakhmut, a day after a visit to the frontline of that city by President Volodimir Zelensky, who on Thursday (23) moved to Kherson (south), in another area partially occupied by Russian troops.

Destroyed and abandoned by the vast majority of its 70,000 inhabitants, Bakhmut was the scene for months of the longest and fiercest battle of the war that began on February 24, 2022, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The aggressor is not relenting in his attempt to take Bakhmut at any cost, despite the human and material losses,” Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrsky said on Telegram.

“Sparing nothing, they are losing a lot of strength and getting exhausted. Very soon we will take this opportunity, as we did near Kiev, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he added, in reference to last year’s successful counteroffensives.

General Syrsky gave no clue as to when the counterattack would be launched, but according to experts, it could occur during the spring that has just begun in the northern hemisphere.

Russia could also try to concentrate resources to finish conquering the Donbass basin, where Bakhmut is located.

Supported by the Wagner paramilitary group, the Russian Army surrounds Bakhmut from the north, east and south, which complicates the delivery of supplies to Ukrainian soldiers.

But the military resists, at the cost of heavy losses on the Ukrainian side as well, a strategy taken up by Kiev’s military command, which is betting on a war of attrition before moving to the offensive.

Although the strategic importance of Bakhmut is relative, Moscow is keen to achieve a military victory after several humiliating setbacks in the summer and fall of last year. These episodes prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to mobilize hundreds of thousands of reservists (civilians) and appoint a new commander for operations in Ukraine.

  • Zelensky in the South

After visiting the Bakhmut frontline and the Kharkiv region (northeast) on Wednesday, Zelensky went on Thursday to the southern Kherson region, partially occupied by Russia.

According to images from the Presidency, he visited the devastated town of Posad Pokrovske, which was in the hands of the Russian Army until the fall of 2022.

“I spoke with the inhabitants about their problems and needs,” Zelensky wrote on social media.

The Ukrainian president also visited a power plant affected by Russian winter bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure.

According to his office, Zelensky chaired a meeting at that location on the reconstruction of Kherson.

Russian troops occupied much of this region early in the war, including the capital of the same name, but had to withdraw from the northern part in November after a Ukrainian counteroffensive. This withdrawal was seen as a serious setback for Putin, who a few weeks earlier had claimed annexation of the entire region.

Currently, the liberated area – an important agricultural region for Ukraine – and especially the town of Kherson are the target of daily Russian attacks.

  • Xi-Zelensky Connection?

These visits by Zelensky come after a meeting between Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Moscow earlier this week.

At the meeting, Putin cautiously supported the Chinese plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, but accused Kiev of rejecting it.

According to press reports, Xi might have a phone conversation with Zelensky.

Although an ally of Moscow, China has not publicly condemned, nor overtly supported, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arriving at a European Union (EU) summit, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that such a conversation would take place “as soon as possible.”

“Maybe this morning,” he added, without giving further details.

Zelenskyy Visits Kherson Region and Celebrates Liberation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was this Thursday visiting the Kherson region and celebrated the liberation of part of it from Russian invaders.

In the capital of the region, partially retaken at the end of last year, he left a message of hope to the population.

The Ukrainian president listened to the people’s wishes and learned about the plans to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by Russian forces.

The Dnipro River now marks the front line in the region, which remains partly occupied.

Russia has occupied much of the Kherson region, including the capital, since the invasion began on February 24 last year, but a Ukrainian counteroffensive forced Russian troops to withdraw from the northern part, to the other side of the Dnipro River, last November, which was a humiliation for the Kremlin.

On Wednesday, Zelenskyy was in Kharkiv and the Donetsk region.

In recent weeks, fighting has intensified on the front lines and the number of casualties from both Russia and Ukraine has increased.

Zelenskyy refuses to give up and continues to measure forces with Moscow.

By admin