The fight in Bakhmut has bought time to plan a future counteroffensive against Russia’s forces, said Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces.
He said the conflict which has become the longest over a city in Ukraine was necessary to restock ammunition and to draw out a strategy for the next phase of the war.
Some military experts have questioned the sense of the continued fight for Bakhmut, but Ukrainian officials say that the town’s fall could lead to further Russian advances in the east.
Mr Syrsky said today: “The real heroes now are the defenders who are holding the eastern front on their shoulders, and inflicting the heaviest possible losses sparing neither themselves nor the enemy.”
“It is necessary to buy time to build reserves and launch a counteroffensive, which is not far off.”
The military said that Mr Syrsky was at “the most important area” of the front line but did not provide further details.
The Bakhmutka River in the centre of Bakhmut now marks the front line. Ukrainian forces hold the west of the town and have demolished key bridges over the river.
Wagner mercenaries said this afternoon they are one kilometre from the centre of Bakhmut.
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