Irshadgul News report,
With fighting intensifying in and around the eastern city, Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut are facing increasingly strong pressure from Russian forces, according to British military intelligence.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter that Ukraine was reinforcing the area with elite units, while regular Russian forces and forces from the Russian private military Wagner Group advanced further into the northern suburbs of Bakhmut.
The city’s deputy mayor, Oleksandr Marchenko, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ,There is fighting in the city and also fighting in the streets, but thanks to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, they still have not taken control of the city.
He said of the Russian attack: “Their only goal is to kill people and massacre the Ukrainian people … The strategy the Russians are using is the dry land strategy. They want to destroy Bakhmut, the city they want to destroy … and I honestly can’t understand why they’re doing this.
He said: “The city is almost destroyed and not a single building has survived this war. Districts, buildings and apartment blocks have been completely destroyed.
The Defense Ministry said two major bridges in Bakhmut had been destroyed within the past 36 hours, adding that Ukrainian-held supply routes out of the city were increasingly limited.
It said one of the bridges links Bakhmut to the city’s last main supply route, about eight miles (13 km) to the west of the Ukrainian-held town of Chasiv Yar.
“The enemy does not cease attempts to encircle Bakhmut,” Ukraine’s military command said in its morning briefing note on Saturday, after Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on the town in the past.
Russian artillery shelled the final straits of Bakhmut on Friday, aiming to complete the encirclement of the besieged city and bring Moscow closer to its first major victory in the war in six months.
The Ukrainian briefing note also stated that Russian attacks were repulsed in the villages of Ivanovske and Bohdanivka, less than five miles west of Bakhmut’s city centre.
The capture of villages on both sides of the vital Bakhmut-Chasiv Yar road would put the city on the brink of a complete Russian encirclement.
The Battle of Bakhmut has been going on for seven months. A Russian victory in the city, which had a population of around 70,000 and was reduced to ruins in the assault, would give Moscow the first major prize in a costly winter offensive after hundreds of thousands of reservists were called in last year.
Russia says this will be a significant step towards capturing the Donbass industrial region, one of Moscow’s most important objectives.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has described Bakhmut as a “fortress”.
“No one will give Bakhmut. We’ll fight as long as we can. We consider Bakhmut our fortress,” he said at a press conference in Kiev on 3 February.