Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s statements regarding the status of Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city, during the G7 summit in Japan have created confusion. Initially, Zelenskyy contradicted Moscow’s claim that Russian forces had occupied Bakhmut, stating that it was not the case. He emphasized the value of human life and acknowledged his understanding of the situation in Bakhmut, although he did not provide specific details.
The fog of war and inconsistent comments from officials on both sides have made it challenging to ascertain the actual situation in Bakhmut. Zelenskyy’s earlier response in English seemed to suggest that he believed the city had fallen, expressing sorrow over the destruction and loss of life. However, his press secretary later clarified his stance.
Ukrainian defense officials have reported ongoing intense fighting, with Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar indicating that Ukrainian troops had semi-encircled the city. The Ukrainian military has managed to maintain positions near Bakhmut, and heavy fighting continues.
Earlier reports from Russian state news agencies claimed that President Putin had congratulated Russian forces on liberating Bakhmut. However, analysts believe that even if Russia had taken control of the city, it would not significantly alter the course of the war.
During the G7 summit, President Zelenskyy stood alongside President Biden and expressed gratitude for the substantial financial assistance and additional aid provided by the United States, including ammunition, artillery, and vehicles.
While the fall of Bakhmut would deal a blow to Ukraine, it would not decisively impact the overall outcome of the war. The city, with its prewar population of 80,000, held significance as an industrial center known for its sparkling wine production and mines.
The fighting in Bakhmut has been fierce, resulting in losses on both sides. The city has witnessed devastating shelling and intense house-to-house battles, with thousands of rounds fired daily. The Wagner mercenary group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has played a prominent role in the battle for Bakhmut.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has indicated that capturing the city would allow Russia to advance further into the Donetsk region, which was unlawfully annexed by Moscow.
The situation in Bakhmut remains fluid, and if its capture has indeed occurred, it would have implications for the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.