'More than 200 Russians' killed in Ukraine's Bakhmut as battle rages on
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 12 March 2023 10:45 AM
Russia and Ukraine both have claimed that hundreds of each other's troops have been killed over the past 24 hours in the front line, admitting significant losses in Bakhmut. The exact number of casualties is difficult to verify.
Ukrainian military spokesperson, Serhiy Cherevatyi, on Sunday said that 221 pro-Moscow troops were killed and more than 300 wounded in the front-line city of Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Russia's defense ministry announced that up to 210 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the broader Donetsk part of the front line, without specifying Bakhmut casualties.
"In the city center, the Bakhmutka River now marks the front line," the British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Saturday adding that Bakhmut has become a "killing zone."
It said Russia's Wagner military group has taken control of most of the eastern part of Bakhmut in recent days, while Ukrainian forces held its western parts.
Ukraine insisted that it was holding on in Bakhmut and was giving a "decent rebuff" to Russian forces, with the commander in charge of defending Bakhmut, Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, saying on Saturday its protection was key for a Ukrainian counter-strike.
For the Kremlin, capturing Bakhmut is essential for achieving its stated goal of taking control of the whole of Donetsk, one of the four Ukrainian regions that joined the Russian Federation following the referendum in September last year.
Moscow says that Bakhmut would be a stepping stone and a rare battlefield gain in completing the capture of the Donbas industrial region, one of Moscow's most important objectives.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the seizure of Bakhmut would allow Russia to press its offensive deeper into the region.
Some military experts have questioned the sense of the continued fight for the ravaged town, but Ukrainian officials say that the fall of Bakhmut could lead to further Russian advances in the east.
One of the Ukrainian presidential aids has said that the military would continue its efforts in Bakhmut because the battle there is pinning down Russia's best units and degrading them ahead of a planned Ukrainian spring counter-offensive.
Ukrainian officials on Sunday ordered a historically Russian-aligned wing of the Orthodox Church to leave a monastery complex in Kiev. It is the latest move against a denomination regarded with deep suspicion by the government.
Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, on Saturday asked Pope Francis and other religious leaders to persuade Ukraine to stop the crackdown against the church. Kiev is cracking down on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) since Kirill has strongly backed Moscow.
Since the onset of the war, the United States and Ukraine's other Western allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.
In the latest news, the Pentagon announced to seek more than $300 billion from the US government for Ukraine's weapons procurement and R & D (research and development) in the upcoming 2024 fiscal year.
Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance risk prolonging the war that recently completed one year.
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