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Kyiv says forces outnumbered, battling ‘intensifying’ Russian attacks near Bakhmut

Ukrainian T-64 tank. (Vitalii Strutynskyi/Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Ukrainian deputy defense minister said on January 25 that Russian forces are “intensifying” their attacks near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine and warned that Moscow had a “superior number of soldiers and weapons” in what has become a hot spot in the 11-month-old invasion.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that “the enemy is intensifying pressure in the Bakhmut and Vuhledar sectors” in a broader region that Ukrainians frequently refer to as the Donbas

“The enemy is throwing a significant number of personnel, weapons, and military equipment into the battle, trying to break through our defenses, [and] is suffering significant losses but is not giving up its plans,” Maylar said. “The intensity of the fighting is increasing.”

Russian-backed separatists have controlled large swaths of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that compose the Donbas since 2014, when Russian troops also invaded Crimea ahead of its annexation.

They are two of the four regions, along with Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, that Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed in September in a move dismissed by Kyiv and the international community.

The report from Kyiv of an intensification came hours after Ukrainian officials acknowledged losing the Donetsk-region salt-mining town of Soledar to Russian forces and with many military experts forecasting a Russian spring offensive.

It also came hours after NATO members Germany and the United States pledged to supply dozens of advanced Abrams and Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, although the training and delivery could take many months.

Britain already pledged to supply its Challenger 2 tanks, and other European states with Leopards have suggested they will donate more tanks to Kyiv’s cause.