Ukraine’s military is inflicting “extraordinarily significant” losses on Russian forces near the town of Vuhledar in the eastern Donbas region, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday.
“The situation is very complicated. And we are fighting. We are breaking down the invaders and inflicting extraordinarily significant losses on Russia,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
Zelensky referred to several towns in Donbas, where fighting has been focused for months, saying “the more losses Russia suffers there, in Donbas – in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Marinka, Kreminna – the faster we will be able to end this war with Ukraine’s victory.”
Zelensky outlined the state of defence in other sectors after what he described as an “extended” meeting of the military command.
Matters were under control near the Black Sea port of Odesa, he said, and troops were “protecting” the central region of Zaporizhzhia, partly controlled by Russian forces.
There were “very good results” on the northern border with Russia and its ally Belarus, areas where Ukrainian troops retook cities from Russian forces in September and October.
“Of course, military issues and intelligence details are not something you can share with everyone,” Zelensky said. “But I want our people to have predictability right now. And a sense that Ukraine is moving toward its goals.”
Ukraine will defend Bakhmut within reason from Russia, Zelensky says
Zelensky said in an interview published on Sunday that Ukraine would maintain its months-long defence of the eastern city of Bakhmut, mindful of the price paid in human lives.
Zelensky was quoted in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera as debate rages over whether Kyiv’s outnumbered forces should remain in the eastern Ukraine city, which Russian shelling has all but destroyed.
Bakhmut, in the front-line Donetsk region, had a pre-war population of 70,000 but now Ukrainian officials estimate fewer than 5,000 civilians remain.
“Yes, it is not a particularly big town. In fact, like many others in Donbas, (it’s been) devastated by the Russians. It is important for us to defend it, but not at any price and not for everyone to die,” Zelensky told the daily.
Analysts say the town has more symbolic than strategic value as a gateway to cities farther west in Donetsk region.
Zelenskiy said that Russian commanders were bent on pushing on to the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, farther west in Donetsk region “and as far as (the central city of) Dnipro.”
“We will resist and meanwhile prepare the next counter-attack.”