Zelensky visits Bakhmut, a critical point on the Ukrainian Eastern Front

Zelensky visits Bakhmut, a critical point on the Ukrainian Eastern Front


Russian forces have been trying to take the city for months and it represents a critical point on the eastern front of Ukraine.

Zelensky presents a decoration
Zelenski presents a decoration to a soldier in Bakhmut.AFP
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Ukrainian President, Volodymyr ZelenskyI visited this Tuesday Bakhmut, a city that Russian forces have been trying to take over for months and that it represents a critical point of the eastern front of the Ukraine.

Zelensky’s surprise visit seems like a challenge to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who at the same time handed out decorations in the Kremlin soldiers and pro-Russian separatist leaders from eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky “met with the military, talked with them and awarded our soldiers,” the Ukrainian presidential cabinet said. without providing more details. A video broadcast by the Ukrainian state channel Freedom showed him taking photos with soldiers in a building and handing them medals.

“Here, in the Donbs, You are protecting all of Ukraine. It’s not just Bakhmut, it’s the Bakhmut fortress,” he told the military.

Zelensky has made several visits near the front, such as to mid-November to Khersonin the south, after the withdrawal of Russian troops, and to Sloviansk in early December, a few kilometers from the eastern front.

But this trip seems the most risky since Russian troops have claimed the capture of towns and areas located at the gates of Bakhmut, although the city remains under kyiv control.

“Eastern Fortress”

Moscow troops have been trying to seize Bakhmut for months, with the help of mercenaries from the Wagner paramilitary group. The city, now ravaged by fighting, it was known for its vineyards and salt flatsand had a population of about 70,000 before the Russian invasion in February.

In recent months, Bakhmut has become the scene of seemingly massive casualties on both sides as result of trench warfareheavy artillery attacks and frontal assaults.

Russian soldiers claim to have the village control and areas located in the limits of Bakhmut while the Ukrainian forces seem to control the city and part of its surroundings.

Vladimir Putin appeared on television on Tuesday handing out decorations to Russian soldiers and political figures and business inside the Kremlinin Moscow.

“Our country has repeatedly faced challenges and defended its sovereignty. Today, Russia stands face the same challenge again“, he declared after decorating the leaders of the pro-Russian separatist east of Ukraine.

Putin will draw the conclusions of the past year and set the objectives of his army for 2023 in a meeting that he will hold on Wednesday with the Russian military high command, the Kremlin reported.

Defense Minister, Sergui Shoig, report on the “progress of the operation special military” in Ukraine at the meeting, in which 15,000 officials will participate.

The Russian president has not visited the front line or Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine since the invasion began.

However, in early December appeared behind the wheel of a car on the Crimean bridge that unites Russia with the peninsula, annexed in 2014, and in October in a training camp for the mobilized.

“extremely difficult” situation

Shoig appeared on Sunday in a video in which he was see inspecting the display of Russian forces in southern Ukraine. The ministry did not specify the exact place or date of the visit.

After a series of Russian military setbacks in the northeast and south of Ukraine, the bulk of the fighting is now concentrated in the east of the country.

At the same time, Russia has since October bombing massively Ukrainian infrastructure, which periodically causes power and water cuts.

Vladimir Putin acknowledged on Tuesday that the situation was “extremely difficult” in the four Ukrainian territories that Moscow claims to have annexed.

The commander of the joint forces of Ukraine, Sergiy Nayev, indicated that “the level of military threat [desde Bielorrusia] gradually increases” and that the country monitors “closely” the transfer of arms from Russia.

The Russian leader traveled to Belarus on Monday, in his first trip in years to this former Soviet republic, and met with his ally Alexander Lukashenko, who allowed Russian troops into Ukraine from his territory at the start of the invasion in February.

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, minimized the importance of this meeting in Belarus and defined it as “another dance they have performed” Putin and Lukashenko.

He also assured that “no essential decision was made during this meeting.” He nevertheless said that Ukraine is “prepared” for any scenario.

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