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Ukraine says Russian forces make progress in frontline city of Bakhmut

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Russian forces have had some success in the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian military officials said on Wednesday evening, adding that their fighters were still holding on in a battle that has lasted several months.

In southern Ukraine, the United Nations nuclear watchdog chief said he was putting aside plans for a security zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant so he could propose specific protection measures acceptable to both Moscow and Kyiv.

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The mining city of Bakhmut and surrounding towns in the eastern industrial region of Donetsk have been the focal point of assault for much of the 13-month-long invasion by Russia of neighboring Ukraine. Neither side yet has full control with heavy losses suffered by both.

“Enemy forces had a degree of success in their actions aimed at storming the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its regular nighttime report. “Our defenders are holding the city and are repelling numerous enemy attacks.”

The average number of daily Russian attacks on the front line reported by Ukraine’s general staff has declined for four straight weeks since the start of March, to 69 in the past seven days from 124 in the week of March 1-7. Just 57 attacks were reported on Wednesday.

Reuters journalists near the front lines west of Bakhmut and further north also reported a notable decline in the intensity of Russian attacks last week.

Russian officials say their forces are still capturing ground in street-by-street fighting inside Bakhmut.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov, who has served in the military, said that while the offensive remained intense, “the conclusion is that Russian troops are beginning to rush about from place to place.”

“It now appears that the enemy has shifted its focus to the city itself - that is where the heaviest fighting is now taking place,” Zhdanov said in a YouTube video. Zhdanov, as did the general staff statement, said Ukrainian fighters are still holding Bakhmut.

Britain’s defense ministry this week described the progress of Russian forces as “marginal” and on Wednesday, the US top general Mark Milley told lawmakers that for the past 20 to 21 days, Russia’s troops had not made any progress in and around Bakhmut.

Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports.

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