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President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 15 that the most difficult combat situations are now near Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast, but Ukrainian soldiers are holding on and inflicting maximum losses on Russian forces.
He named the city of Bakhmut "a living fortress," which is allowing Ukraine to prepare its troops for the liberation of Russian-occupied territories.
"Unfortunately, the fortress is alive. I mean, it consists of living people, a kind of living wall. This war is so expensive for the history of our country," Ukraine's president said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Kyiv.
Zelensky added that he's constantly in touch with all Ukrainian commanders fighting in these areas. "It's hard, but they're holding on."
Russian troops, along with the Kremlin-controlled mercenary group Wagner, have been attempting to capture Bakhmut for months.
Russian forces have recently captured settlements north and south of Bakhmut and are trying to cut off all supply lines leading to the embattled town.
Taking control of the town would allow Moscow to disrupt Ukraine's supply lines in the area and open up the main road leading to the two vital Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.