The Russian-installed leader of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said on Thursday that the situation is “difficult” for Russian forces trying to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut because there are no signs Kyiv is ready to order a withdrawal of its troops.
For months, Russian forces, led by the private Wagner militia, have been attempting to encircle and capture the eastern Ukrainian city in what has become one of the bloodiest battles of the year-long war.
Russia, using the city’s Soviet-era name of Artyomovsk, claims that taking the city will allow it to launch more offensives deeper into Ukrainian territory, which it is fighting to “liberate.”
Russian-installed Donetsk region governor Denis Pushilin said on Thursday that the situation in Artyomovsk remained “complex and difficult” in an interview with Ukrainian state television.
Specifically, “we do not see that there is any premise that the enemy is going to simply withdraw units,” he said.
Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed that his forces now control nearly half of the city, leaving Ukraine with only one exit road.
Despite Kyiv and Western officials downplaying the strategic significance of Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stated he will not withdraw his forces from the city. Bakhmut has been devastated by months of artillery shelling and urban combat.