Zelenskyy: Ukraine cannot leave Bakhmut, it will expand the battle front
Ukraine’s Armed Forces cannot leave the eastern city of Bakhmut, which has been holding out against fierce Russian attacks for months, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based television network, Mr Zelenskyy stressed that Ukraine will not give up on Bakhmut.
He called on analysts saying the city has little strategic value to "visit [the city] so that they can understand what could happen and what the threats are."
"It is impossible for us to give up on Bakhmut because this will [help] expand the battle front and will give the Russian forces and Wagner chances to seize more of our lands."
Ukraine’s president added that should Russia capture Bakhmut, that could act as a stepping-stone to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, two bigger cities in eastern Ukraine.
Bakhmut has become the point of one of the fiercest fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russia’s Wagner group mercenaries.
Over the last weeks, Ukraine has been forced to retreat to the western part of the city, while Russia claims to have captured up to 90 percent of its territory.
Kyiv suggests that the defence of Bakhmut has helped exhaust the most capable Russian forces on the heels of its planned counter-offensive operation. The US, in turn, has reiterated that while it understands Ukraine’s decision to hold onto the city, it has little strategic value for Russians.