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US Defense Secretary: Bakhmut more of 'symbolic' than 'strategic' value
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on March 6 that the fall of Bakhmut would not be a significant setback for the Ukrainian military, Reuters reported.
"I think it is more of a symbolic value than it is strategic and operational value," Austin, as cited by Reuters, told journalists during his trip to Jordan.
According to Reuters, Austin did not specify if he thought when or if Bakhmut would fall.
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.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told CNN on March 4 that fighting is ongoing and Ukrainian troops are rotating in and out of their positions in a planned manner.
According to the Institute for the Study of War's latest update on March 5, while Ukrainian forces are likely conducting a limited tactical withdrawal in Bakhmut, it is too early to tell if Ukraine is considering a complete withdrawal from the city.