KYIV, Ukraine (AFP/Reuters) -- Ukraine said Tuesday its forces were under pressure in Bakhmut, a nearly-destroyed city in the eastern Donetsk region that Russia has been trying to seize for months.
“The situation around Bakhmut is extremely tense. Despite taking significant losses, the enemy has dispatched its best-trained Wagner assault units to try to break through the defenses of our troops and surround the city,” the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on social media.
The industrial hub with a pre-war population of around 70,000 has become the epicenter of the grinding war in eastern Ukraine.
This battle, the longest-running of Russia’s year-long invasion, has involved mass artillery strikes, made high casualties on both sides, and reduced the city to rubble.
On Monday evening Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the situation around Bakhmut was getting increasingly difficult.
President Vladimir Putin last week delivered a warning to the West over the war in Ukraine and announced Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the latest START treaty, after accusing the West of being directly involved in attempts to strike its strategic air bases.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday Russia will not resume participation in the START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States until Washington listens to Moscow’s position.
Peskov told the daily Izvestia in an interview that the “attitude of the collective West”, led by the United States needs to change towards Moscow.
“The security of one country cannot be ensured at the expense of the security of another,” Peskov said.
He also said that NATO by arming Ukraine “acts as a single bloc no longer as our conditional opponents, but as enemies”.
Speaking about a Chinese peace plan on Ukraine that urges both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation and warns against the use of nuclear weapons, Peskov said Beijing’s voice should be heard, but the nuances of the proposal are important.
“Any attempt to formulate theses for reaching a peaceful settlement of the problem is welcome, but, of course, the nuances are important,” the Kremlin’s spokesman said.
China, which declared a “no limits” alliance with Russia shortly before Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine a year ago, called for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine on Friday.
Zelensky has said he is open to considering parts of Beijing’s 12-point peace plan.