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Ukraine Says Russian Forces Pulling Back After Bakhmut Attacks

Military hardware pictured in the outskirts of Bakhmut, March 2023. Valentin Sprinchak / TASS

A senior Ukrainian military official said Wednesday that Russian forces had dropped back from some areas near Bakhmut after limited counterattacks by Kyiv's forces in the longest-running battle of Moscow's invasion.

Commander of Ukrainian ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russian troops had fallen back in some regions of the front in the eastern Donetsk region by up to two kilometers (around one mile).

"We are seeing the results of the effective actions of our units," Syrskyi said, explaining that his forces were launching counterattacks along some portions of the contact line around Bakhmut.

"In some areas of the front, the enemy could not withstand the onslaught of Ukrainian defenders and retreated to a distance of up to two kilometers," he added.

Russian troops have battled since last summer to capture Bakhmut, the political importance of which has come to surpass any strategic value.

But Wagner, the Russian paramilitary group leading the Kremlin's offensive for the city, has publicly complained to Moscow that it lacks resources to hold its positions.

Its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin threatened this week to withdraw his forces from the city if the Defense Ministry did not bolster its supplies of ammunition.

"Our defense forces are holding the front and preventing the enemy from advancing. The battle for Bakhmut is continuing," Syrskyi added in his statement on social media.

Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of around 70,000 people, has been destroyed as Russian forces have posted incremental gains over recent months, amounting to some 80% of the city.

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