Fighting in Bakhmut’s streets but Russia has not taken city, says Ukraine, as civilian casualties rise; families evacuated from Kupiansk amid shelling
The Ukraine military said Russian troops were trying but failing to surround Bakhmut. Defenders had repelled numerous attacks in and around the besieged city in eastern Ukraine, the armed forces’ general staff added in its Facebook post late on Saturday.
A woman was killed and two men were badly wounded in Bakhmut by shelling while trying to cross a makeshift bridge out of the city on Saturday, according to Ukrainian troops assisting them.
Russian artillery is reported to be pounding the last routes out of Bakhmut, aiming to block Ukrainian forces’ access in and out and complete an encirclement of the city. The UK Ministry of Defence said Ukrainian resupply routes there were becoming “increasingly limited”.
The death toll has risen to 11 from a Russian missile strike that hit a five-storey apartment block in southern Ukraine on Thursday, Ukraine’s emergency services said on Saturday.
Ukraine has ordered a mandatory evacuation of families and vulnerable residents from the frontline city of Kupiansk and adjacent north-eastern territories. The evacuation order was due to the “unstable security situation” caused by Russia’s constant shelling of the town and its surroundings, it said. Russian troops retreated from key cities in the north-eastern Kharkiv region, including Kupiansk, and Ukraine recaptured it last September.
Gen Sir Richard Shirreff, Nato’s former deputy supreme allied commander Europe, has urged speeding up the supply of equipment and support to Ukraine to give the Ukrainians “the tools they need to do the job”,
The Russian defence minister paid a rare visit to Moscow’s forces in Ukraine. In a statement on Telegram, Russia’s defence ministry said Sergei Shoigu “inspected the forward command post of one of the formations of the eastern military district in the south Donetsk direction”.
The president of the European parliament, Roberta Metsola, has called for Ukraine to be allowed to begin EU membership negotiations this year, during a visit to the country on Saturday. She was “hopeful” the talks could starts this year, she said.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s description of the Russian invasion as “the war, which we are trying to stop, and which was launched against us using the Ukrainian people” was met with laughter at an event in New Delhi, India.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, an influential far-right Republican in Congress, has called for the US to stop aid to Ukraine, saying President Joe Biden was “putting the entire world at risk of world war three”.