Zelensky Hints At Withdrawing From Russian-Encircled Bakhmut: 'Out Of Options'
It was only in late January that Ukraine's military General Staff emphasized that any potential forces withdrawal from the strategic city of Bakhmut in the east was "out of the question" as the situation was said to be under control.
But a month later, the narrative has dramatically shifted amid reports that the Russians are shelling Ukrainian positions around the clock, and as complaints from Ukrainian front lines oersist of not enough ammo supplies to keep pace with the Russians. President Zelensky in fresh remarks on the situation has admitted that besieged Bakhut is running out of options.
Within the past days he also said for the first time that he won't seek to hold the city "at any cost" - strongly suggesting Ukraine has suffered a staggering loss in manpower.
He said Tuesday:
"The situation is getting more and more difficult"...
"The enemy is gradually destroying everything which can be used to protect our positions," Zelenskiy said in his address, stopping short of announcing a pullout.
There have been emerging repots of gun battles deep within the city itself, which is a new development, also as Russian forces have it nearly fully encircled, as the NY Times also confirms:
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, on Tuesday described the situation around the city as "extremely tense" in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
And Reuters too for the first time presented a headline Tuesday which put the situation for the Ukrainian side in stark terms: "Russians tighten noose on Ukraine's Bakhmut," the news service reported.
On Monday Zelensky had described that "The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions for fortification and defense. Our soldiers defending the area around Bakhmut are true heroes." Some soldiers cited in local reports are vowing to fight till the end, as military reports get more and more desperate.
🎥Ukrainian forces supporting encircled Ukrainian soldier in the north-eastern outskirts of #Bakhmut. #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/mq3d3qVJ9C— MilitaryLand.net (@Militarylandnet) February 28, 2023
Meanwhile the Biden administration is still resisting demands to give Kiev F-16 fighter jets... "for now" that is. John Kirby had described in a Monday interview that "At no time have the Russians ever achieved air superiority over Ukraine" - though by many military observer accounts, this is a highly dubious statement.
Russian forces are fast closing in on months-long efforts to have the sizeable city completely surrounded and cut off...
Bakhmut Frontline 28/02/2023— WarMonitor🇺🇦 (@WarMonitor3) February 28, 2023
Heavy fighting rages north of Bakhmut assaults in the directions of Bohdanivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Zaliznyans'ke also assaults south from the northern road.
Heavy fighting towards the Bakhmutovka river in the residential areas. pic.twitter.com/ReaqbHzv44
He emphasized that "we do want Ukraine to win" - speaking of the United States, however, he qualified that Ukraine's leaders will determine what 'winning' looks like, which could be seen as a sign of creeping openness to negotiated settlement.