Ukrainian forces under ‘severe pressure’ and deploying ‘elite units’ to Bakhmut, UK says


Ukrainian resupply routes out of the besieged city of Bakhmut are becoming “increasingly limited” and forces are now under “severe pressure”, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said that Kyiv is “reinforcing the area with elite units” in order to maintain control of the eastern Ukraine town.

“The Ukrainian defence of the Donbas town of Bakhmut is under increasingly severe pressure, with intense fighting taking place in and around the city,” the MoD said.

“Regular Russian Army and Wagner Group forces have made further advances into the northern suburbs of the city, which is now a Ukrainian-held salient, vulnerable to Russian attacks on three sides.

“Ukraine is reinforcing the area with elite units, and within the last 36 hours two key bridges in Bakhmut have been destroyed, including a vital bridge connecting the city to the last main supply route from Bakhmut to the city of Chasiv Yar.

“Ukrainian-held resupply routes out of the town are increasingly limited.”

It came as the deputy mayor of Bakhmut rejected reports that Russia has taken control of the city.

Oleksandr Marchenko told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is fighting in the city and there are also street fights but thanks to the Ukrainian armed forces they still haven’t taken control over the city.

He said of the Russian attack: “Their only goal is killing people and the genocide of the Ukrainian people…the tactic that the Russians are using is the tactic of parched land.

“They want to destroy Bakhmut, they want to destroy the city…and I honestly can’t understand why they’re doing this.”

He said they believed there were approximately “4,000 or 4,500” Ukrainian civilians in the city adding that “they did not know for sure” the exact number.

Those who are in Bakhmut are living in the shelters “there’s no water or gas or electricity”, he said, but they have been given heaters.

He added: “The city is almost destroyed and there’s not a single building that has remained untouched in this war.

“There are completely destroyed, districts, buildings and apartment blocks.”

On Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Putin’s ‘private army’ the Wagner Group, appeared in combat uniform in a video filmed on a rooftop, to urge Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a retreat from Bakhmut to save his soldiers’ lives.

He said the city, which has been blasted to ruins, was almost completely surrounded, with only one route out left open for Ukraine’s troops.