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Zelensky says Ukraine will not withdraw from Bakhmut despite Russian assaults
President Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address on March 6 said that along with Ukraine's top-level commanders, the decision was made not to withdraw from Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast and instead to reinforce the troops currently defending the eastern city from Russia's relentless attacks.
"Today at the General Staff meeting, I directly asked both commander of the Khortytsia operational and strategic group of troops, (Oleksandr) Syrsky, and Commander-in-Chief (Valeriy) Zaluzhny about their view on the further defense operation in Bakhmut: either withdraw or continue to defend and reinforce the city."
"Both generals replied: do not withdraw and reinforce. The General Staff unanimously backed this opinion. There were no other opinions," he said.
Russia has been attempting to encircle Bakhmut for months as part of its larger objective of capturing the entirety of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, comprised of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Russia has occupied nearly all of Luhansk Oblast since it first invaded in 2014 and then later during its full-scale invasion.
The losses on both sides are thought to be extremely high.
United States' officials have said that the continued defense of Bakhmut carried more "symbolic" than "strategic" value for Ukraine. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also said on March 6 that the fall of Bakhmut would not be a significant setback for the Ukrainian military.
According to Zelensky, however, Bakhmut "has yielded and is yielding one of the greatest results during this war, during the entire battle for Donbas."
He did not provide details on what those results were but said that, along with Bakhmut, "there is no part of Ukraine about which one can say that it can be abandoned.""There is no Ukrainian trench in which the resilience and heroism of our warriors would be disregarded."