KYIV, March 13 (Reuters) – The situation around Bakhmut remains difficult, but Ukrainian forces are repelling all Russian attempts to capture the town, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Monday.
“The situation around Bakhmut remains difficult,” Syrskyi was quoted as saying on the Ukraine’s Media Military Centre Telegram messaging platform.
“All enemy attempts to capture the town are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower.”
Syrskyi added that the Russian Wagner Group of mercenaries “are attacking from several directions trying to break through the defences of our troops and advance to the central districts of the town”.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.
In Other Developments
* The situation in Bakhmut was difficult, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces said, though adding that his troops were repelling all Russian attempts to capture it.
* The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which has led the assault on Bakhmut, said the situation in the mining town was “tough, very tough … But we are advancing and we will be advancing”.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian forces had suffered more than 1,100 dead in the past few days fighting along the Bakhmut section of the frontline. Russian forces also sustained 1,500 “sanitary losses” – soldiers wounded badly enough to keep them out of further action, he added.
* Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces had killed more than 220 Ukrainian service members over the past 24 hours in the Donetsk direction.
* The Wagner chief said his army would begin to reboot once Bakhmut was captured. “In particular, we will start recruiting new people from the regions,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a clip posted on Telegram channels associated with Wagner.
* Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said he believes that a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea will be extended from its current March 18 deadline.
* Russia’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that Russian representatives had not yet taken part in negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain deal.
* Ukraine’s punitive actions against a branch of the Orthodox church linked to Russia are part of a drive to achieve “spiritual independence”, Zelenskiy said. Ukrainian leaders have accused the long-established Ukrainian Orthodox Church of undermining Ukrainian unity and collaborating with Moscow.
* Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Germany in an interview published on Sunday to speed up supplies of ammunition and to start training Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets.