Ukraine pinned down Russia’s special forces unit in Bakhmut

The battle over the ruined city of Bakhmut is pinning down Russia’s best units and degrading them ahead of a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine has decided to fight on in the small easten town, the site of the war’s bloodiest battle as Moscow tries to secure its first victory in more than half a year.

“Russia has changed tactics,” Mr Podolyak told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper. “It has converged on Bakhmut with a large part of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as the private companies.”

“We, therefore, have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive.”

Russia has made Bakhmut the main target of a winter offensive involving hundreds of thousands of reservists and mercenaries. It has succeeded in capturing the eastern part of the city and the outskirts to the north and south, but has so far failed to close a ring around Ukrainian defenders there.

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