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Defense ministry on Bakhmut: Ukraine successful in 'certain areas,' Russia makes advances
Ukraine's Armed Forces have been successful "in certain areas" of the Bakhmut front line in Donetsk Oblast, but Russian troops have also made some advances, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar said on March 20.
According to Maliar, Ukrainian soldiers are "destroying Russia's most professional units," namely the state-backed Wagner Group forces thrown at the encirclement of the eastern city of Bakhmut.
"The defense of Bakhmut makes it possible to reduce the enemy's offensive potential. Our troops there simply do not let the enemy troops go further," Maliar said on national television, as cited by the Ukrainska Pravda publication.
She acknowledged Ukraine's military suffering casualties in the embattled city but said Wagner's losses were "much higher."
“Bakhmut is standing. This is thanks to the courage of our soldiers who defend the city today. And the enemy cannot even rationally explain such a powerful resistance," the deputy minister added.
Over the past several weeks, news outlets have reported that Ukrainian death rates in Bakhmut are especially high, possibly as a result of the under-preparation of some units compared to others. Maliar later denied Defense Ministry sending unprepared troops to the front lines.
The battle of Bakhmut has been raging for the past seven months, and despite the heavy fighting, Ukraine continues to hold on to the city.
Geolocated footage published on March 19 indicates that Ukrainian forces conducted a successful counterattack southwest of Ivanivske, located six kilometers west of Bakhmut, and pushed Russian forces further away from the key highway in the area, the Institute for the Study of War said in its update.