Comments from a senior presidential adviser are the latest signal of a shift from Kyiv to continue defending the city in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has decided to continue fighting in the ruined town of Bakhmut because the battle is pinning down the best Russian units ahead of a planned Ukrainian counteroffensive in the spring, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.
Mykhailo Podolyak’s comments on Friday were the latest signal of a change from Kyiv this week to continue defending the small eastern city, where Moscow is seeking its first major victory in more than six months.
Russia “converged on Bakhmut with much of its trained military personnel, the remnants of its professional army, as well as private companies,” Podolyak said in an interview published by Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“So we have two objectives: to reduce their capable numbers as much as possible, and to freeze them in a few key tiring battles, to disrupt their offensive and to concentrate our means elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive. So today Bakhmut is completely efficient, even exceeding its main tasks.
Moscow has captured the eastern part of the city and its northern and southern outskirts, but has so far failed to close a circle around the Ukrainian defenders.
kyiv seemed to consider, at the beginning of March, a retreat towards the west. However, he announced this week that his generals had decided to reinforce Bakhmut and keep fighting.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Wagner’s private militia leading the Russian assault, claimed that the military command was not supplying his men with enough ammunition as the Russian advances appeared to be slowing.
On Friday, Prigozhin publicly thanked the government for a “heroic” increase in production, but in the same audio message he said he was “worried about the shortages of ammunition and shells not only for Wagner … but for all units of the Russian army”.
He said his private army had opened recruiting centers in 42 towns as it sought to replenish its ranks after heavy losses in the fighting for Bakhmut. He gave no indication of the number of fighters involved.
The Russian winter offensive largely failed to gain ground except around Bakhmut.
Despite a barrage of attacks targeting critical infrastructure by missiles and drones, Ukraine’s capital regained most of its power supply on Friday, officials said.
Serhii Popko, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said electricity and water had been restored to the city, around 30% of consumers in the capital remained without heating and repair work was under way. course.
The power supply has been fully restored in the Odessa region of southern Ukraine, the private supplier DTEK announced on Friday afternoon.
About 60% of homes in the city of Kharkiv that were disconnected from the grid by the Russian missile attacks on Thursday have also been restored, authorities said, although significant damage remains in Zhytomyr and Kharkiv regions, in the northwest and northeast of Ukraine.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russia was hitting civilian infrastructure because it “lacks data on the location of Ukrainian troops and weapons.”
“They are targeting civilian infrastructure and using the same old methods of attacking civilians to sow fear and panic in society,” he said.