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Stoltenberg: Bakhmut could fall 'in the coming days'
Bakhmut could potentially fall "in the coming days," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday, but he stressed that the loss of the city would not be a critical juncture in the war.
"What we see is that Russia is throwing more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality they try to make up in quantity," Stoltenberg, as cited by DW, said.
He added that the lesson to take from the potential loss of Bakhmut would be that Russia must not be "underestimated" and that providing continued defense aid to Ukraine was paramount.
On March 6, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also remarked that the fall of Bakhmut would not be a significant setback for the Ukrainian military, adding that the city was more of a "symbolic" than "strategic" value.
The battle for Bakhmut, a city in Donetsk Oblast, has been raging for the past seven months. The Russian military is attempting to increase its grip over the entirety of the oblast, around half of which it currently occupies.
Despite the heavy fighting, Ukraine has chosen not to withdraw soldiers from the city. "This is tactical for us… after Bakhmut, they could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with CNN on March 8.