Russia Vows to Capture Bakhmut, Advance Further into Ukraine

A Ukrainian a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle rides, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the front line city of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine March 3, 2023.

KYIV (AFP-Jiji) — The Russian army vowed on Tuesday to capture the east Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, a move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said would give Moscow an “open road” for offensives deeper into his country.

The intense fighting in the east raged on as Ukraine said it had identified a soldier filmed being shot dead in a video that sparked outrage on social media and as U.N. chief Antonio Guterres headed to Kyiv for talks.

The battle for Bakhmut — a salt-mining town with a prewar population of 80,000 — has been the longest and bloodiest in Russia’s more than year-long invasion that has devastated swathes of Ukraine and displaced millions.

Russia has appeared intent to capture it at all costs.

“Capturing [Bakhmut] will allow for further offensive operations deep into the defense lines of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told military officials during a televised meeting on Tuesday.

In Kyiv, Zelenskyy said the army was intent on defending Bakhmut despite a rumored retreat under pressure from Russian forces, who have sought to capture the city for months.