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‘No strategic impact’ if Russia takes Bakhmut: US official

15.02.2023 07:00
The potential Russian capture of Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut would not have a strategic impact on Moscow's war against Kyiv, a senior US security official has said.
The potential Russian capture of Ukraines eastern city of Bakhmut would not have a strategic impact on the war, a White House spokesman has said.
The potential Russian capture of Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut “would not have a strategic impact on the war,” a White House spokesman has said. PAP/Abaca/AA/ABACA

John Kirby, who is the strategic communications coordinator at America's National Security Council, made the statement on Tuesday night, the Reuters news agency reported.

Kirby said at a media briefing that Russian forces “have made incremental progress in the last day or two in their assault on the Ukrainian city of Bahkmut but it is unclear if it will fall.”

Answering questions from reporters, he stated that if Bakhmut were to fall to Russian forces, "it would not have a strategic impact on the overall war."

Kirby’s words came amid reports that Ukrainian troops had blown up a bridge near Bakhmut, which would suggest they may be planning to withdraw from the area, news outlets reported.

Ukraine has denied it intends to leave Bakhmut, despite six months of heavy fighting, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.

Seizing Bakhmut would give Russia a major symbolic boost ahead of the first anniversary of the war, according to military experts.

Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s private Wagner group whose mercenaries have been fighting for months to take Bakhmut, has said the battle is far from over, The Guardian also reported. 

In a post on the Telegram social messaging app, Prigozhin said that Ukraine was reinforcing with “up to 500 new fighters a day.”

The Wagner chief stated: “Bakhmut will not be taken tomorrow because there is heavy resistance and grinding. The meat grinder is working.”

“We will not be celebrating in the near future,” Prigozhin added. 

US says it doesn't have enough long-range missiles to supply Ukraine: report

The United States has told Ukraine it will not send long-range missiles because it has too few to spare, according to the Politico news service. 

US officials have said transferring Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to the battlefield in Ukraine would risk a shortage of America’s own stockpiles and harm the country's own readiness for any fight in the future, sources have said.

One senior official told Politico: “With any package, we always consider our readiness and our own stocks while providing Ukraine what it needs on the battlefield.”

However, Ukraine could potentially ask for America’s approval to buy ATACMS from an allied country that operates the weapon, using military financing from the United States, according to a source, Politico said, adding that the list of ATACMS users includes Poland, South Korea, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain.

Jets to Ukraine decision ‘not a focus' now, but 'will be discussed’: Germany

Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has said that providing Ukraine with fighter jets "is not a focus" at the moment, "but will certainly be discussed," according to The Kyiv Independent

Pistorius told Germany’s ARD television on Tuesday that securing Ukraine’s airspace was the priority at the moment. 

“Only when the skies over Ukraine remain safe over the next three, four months, then you can talk about all other further steps,” he said.

The German defence minister also said on Tuesday that the government in Berlin had signed contracts with the arms maker Rheinmetall to restart the production of ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft guns it had transferred to Ukraine, news outlets reported.

Wednesday is day 357 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: Reuters, PAP, The Guardian, PoliticoThe Kyiv Independent