Ukrainian troops continue defense operation in Bakhmut as fighting reaches highest intensity
On Sunday, March 5, Commander of Ukraine’s ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi made a visit to the Ukrainian troops defending Bakhmut and the city’s outskirts. The fighting for Bakhmut reached the highest level of intensity, Syrskyi is quoted as saying by the Military Media Center on Monday.
“The enemy threw additional Wagner units into the battle. Our troops are bravely defending their positions in the north of Bakhmut, trying to prevent the city being encircled,” Ukraine’s ground forces commander said.
During a staff meeting for the Supreme Commander in Chief on March 6, Commander of the ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi and Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi spoke in favor of continuing the defense operation in Bakhmut.
The battle for Bakhmut has been raging since July 2022. The Russian forces continue to try to encircle and capture Bakhmut, but to no avail, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said. The Russians threw well-trained Wagner units and regular units of the army into capturing the city.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said 500 Russian troops are being killed or wounded in the battle for Bakhmut every day.
Battle for Bakhmut nears culmination, Institute for the Study of War says
The Russian offensive to capture Bakhmut will likely culminate whether Russian forces capture the city or not, the Institute for the Study of War said in a report released on March 5. The report analyzes the ongoing battle for Bakhmut and Russian prospects for further offensive efforts.
The likely imminent culmination of the Russian offensive around Bakhmut is likely setting robust conditions for Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, similar to those when Russia lost the initiative following exhausting fighting to seize Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in summer 2022, the report reads.
Ukrainian forces may be conducting a limited fighting withdrawal in eastern Bakhmut and are continuing to inflict high casualties against the advancing mixed Russian forces. If Russian forces manage to secure Bakhmut they could then attempt renewed pushes towards one or both of Kostyantynivka or Slovyansk but would struggle with endemic personnel and equipment constraints. The likely imminent culmination of the Russian offensive around Bakhmut before or after its fall, the already culminated Russian offensive around Vuhledar, and the stalling Russian offensive in Luhansk Oblast are likely setting robust conditions for a future Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Institute for the Study of War said.
How Russia steals Ukrainian children: five scenarios
Russia has forcibly deported thousands of Ukrainian children since the invasion began. Precise numbers of the children forcibly sent to Russia are unknown and estimates vary. Counting close to exact numbers was possible in the liberated areas in Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv regions, Ukrainian MP Viktoria Vagner said in her opinion piece published in the New Voice of Ukraine on Monday. Precise numbers will remain unknown until the occupied areas are free, she added. Numbers coming from the occupied areas are patchy. According to some reports, at least 1,200 children were deported from Kherson region and Crimea. In other cases, there was some indirect evidence. Officials in Crimea once said that local facilities were about to host five thousand more Ukrainian children.
Russian President’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova is instrumental in the mass kidnapping of Ukrainian children, for which she was nicknamed “Bloody Mary”, Viktoria Vagner says. Lvova-Belova publicly lamented that children deported from Mariupol cursed Putin, sang the Ukrainian anthem and chanted “Glory to Ukraine!”. She vowed to “re-educate” them.
At a UN Security Council meeting late last year, Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Serhiy Kyslytsia said the Ukrainian government verified that 12,340 children had been forcibly deported to Russia or Russian-held territory.
As of January 2023, the Ukrainian government was able to verify 16,207 child abduction cases, according to the National Information Bureau.
Daria Herasymchuk, commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation, said there are five scenarios of how the Russian forces forcibly remove Ukrainian children. They kill their parents and deport them as orphans; separate children from their parents during filtration; forcibly take children away from their families; deport children living in foster care; send children for ostensible vacations and never send them back to their families, Herasymchuk said.
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