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Russia gains ground in Bakhmut, Ukraine says it will keep fighting

The fighting in Bakhmut marks ‘the war’s bloodiest battlefield,’ and Ukraine says it is setting up for a stronger offensive without control of the city

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A local man hauls a bicycle with humanitarian aid in front of a house which was destroyed by Russian shelling in Orihiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 22, 2023.

A local man hauls a bicycle with humanitarian aid in front of a house which was destroyed by Russian shelling in Orihiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 22, 2023.

Andriy Andriyenko, Associated Press

Russia claimed it took control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Saturday — a territory that it has been fighting for ground in for months.

The fighting in Bakhmut marks “the war’s bloodiest battlefield,” according to The Washington Post.

The proclamation from Russia on Sunday “gave Moscow its first chance to declare a substantial victory for more than 10 months,” Reuters reported.

Ukraine says the Russian reinforcements within Bakhmut will “weaken Moscow’s lines elsewhere,” per Reuters.

“The offensive potential of the enemy has been significantly reduced. Huge losses have been inflicted on the enemy. We have gained time for certain actions, which will be revealed later,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said, per The Associated Press.

Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said “that only a small contingent of Ukrainian soldiers is now inside Bakhmut,” The New York Times reported.

According to the Times, it seems Ukraine’s strategy around Bakhmut is changing — “Officials now appear to be acknowledging that their focus is changing from defending Bakhmut to making it difficult for Russians to hold it.”

Now, Russian troops are working to demine the city.

“The Russian forces that liberated the city are checking buildings for explosives. It is important for us to carry out a complete, thorough demining,” Denis Pushilin, acting head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said, per CNN. “This is very painstaking and difficult work, given the scale of the hostilities that took place there.” 

In Ukraine’s perspective, “the important factor has been the high number of Russian casualties and sapping of their adversary’s morale for the small patch” of the front line, according to AP News.