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Ukraine won’t withdraw from Bakhmut now, may if encirclement risk rises – Zelenskyy

Sotuation around Donetsk’s Bakhmut as of 6 April 2023. Map: DeepState.
Ukraine won’t withdraw from Bakhmut now, may if encirclement risk rises – Zelenskyy
In its April 5 assessment of the Russian offensive campaign, the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War says that the Ukrainian military leadership “continues to clearly signal that Ukrainian forces are still not encircled and have the option to withdraw as necessary.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukrainian forces will withdraw from Bakhmut to avoid encirclement if necessary, but do not yet assess the need to do so. Zelenskyy stated during a press conference in Poland on April 5 that Ukrainian troops face a very challenging situation in Bakhmut, and that Kyiv will make the “corresponding decisions” if Ukrainian troops risk encirclement by Russian forces.

Zelensky’s statement is in line with other recent statements by Ukrainian officials that Ukrainian military command will order a withdrawal from Bakhmut when and if they deem a withdrawal to be the most strategically appropriate option. While it remains to be seen whether Ukraine’s defense of Bakhmut and its efficacy in fixing Russian forces in the area is worth Ukrainian losses (and we will likely be unable to assess this until observing the Ukrainian spring counteroffensive), Ukrainian military leadership continues to clearly signal that Ukrainian forces are still not encircled and have the option to withdraw as necessary.

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