According to Ukraine’s military, there have been numerous attacks repelled in the area of eastern Donetsk over the last 24 hours. However, Russian forces claim they are about to take the eastern city of Bakhmut, which has been the focus of intense fighting for many months. The head of Russia’s Wagner private army claims it is “practically encircled” with limited routes out, while the deputy mayor of the city reported street fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Despite constant shelling, Ukraine’s military maintains that Russia is not yet in control of Bakhmut.
The situation in Bakhmut is becoming increasingly severe, with the city vulnerable to Russian attacks on three sides. The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited Bakhmut on Friday to discuss how to bolster front-line forces. President Volodymyr Zelensky warned this week that the situation on the eastern front line was becoming “more and more difficult.” A key concern for Ukraine is its ever-decreasing ammunition stocks as the high-intensity war with Russia shows no sign of slowing.
In an effort to boost Kyiv’s depleted ammunition stocks, the US has announced a further $400m in military aid. The country’s latest package includes high-precision Himars artillery rockets and howitzers, which Ukraine is using effectively. The delivery of such equipment comes as Ukrainian military officials and experts suggest an offensive could begin in the coming weeks. Himars proved to be extremely effective during Ukraine’s lightning counter-offensive late last year that saw almost the whole of the Kharkiv region brought back under Kyiv’s control. The US is also sending tactical bridges ahead of Ukraine’s expected offensive.
Reports in US media suggest that Ukraine may be running dangerously low on artillery stocks after more than a year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion. Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to be firing tens of thousands of artillery shells every day in what is seen as a high-intensity war of attrition in recent months. President Zelensky stressed that Kyiv also needed “a large quantity of shells” and war planes to “expel” Russian troops from Ukraine’s territory.
Military assistance to Ukraine was expected to dominate the agenda as US President Joe Biden met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington on Friday. A number of Ukraine’s Western allies have pledged to deliver tanks and artillery, but Kyiv says this must be done much faster to deter further Russian aggression. The United States continues to rally the world to support Ukraine in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.