Street fighting is raging around Bakhmut and the Ukrainian city is “almost destroyed” — but Russian forces have not seized full control, its deputy mayor said Saturday. Ukrainian forces appeared to still hold some parts of the eastern city, despite claims by pro-Kremlin forces that they had encircled the town, The Washington Post reported earlier. If Russian forces capture the city, it would give Moscow a symbolic triumph after months of fierce fighting and heavy casualties.
Off the battlefield, law enforcement officials from the United States, the European Union, Britain and other jurisdictions met Friday in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who traveled to Ukraine unannounced.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Nearly 4,000 residents are believed to be living in shelters in Bakhmut without enough electricity or water, the city’s deputy mayor, Oleksandr Marchenko, told the BBC on Saturday. “There is fighting near the city and there are also street fights,” he said. Battles have intensified in the city over weeks as Russian forces closed in. “We shouldn’t give it to them is because it will be very hard to take it back,” Marchenko added.
- Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut are running short on key supplies such as ammunition, The Post reported, while Britain’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that Ukraine’s defense of Bakhmut “is under increasingly severe pressure” in and around the embattled city. While Ukraine has sent reinforcements, its resupply routes are becoming more and more limited, according to the ministry’s daily update.
- The United States signed an agreement designed to expand information-sharing regarding alleged Russian war crimes, involving Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Romania, Garland said Friday. Meanwhile, American prosecutors are aiding their Ukrainian counterparts to build war crimes cases, including attacks on civilian targets, he said.
- President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated support for Ukraine and their determination to “impose costs” on Russia, the White House said after their meeting Friday. “The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to provide security, humanitarian, economic, and political assistance to Ukraine,” the statement said.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited his country’s forces in eastern Ukraine, the Russian ministry claimed on Telegram. Late last month, the head of the Wagner mercenary group launched a fierce attack against Russia’s military leadership, including Shoigu, accusing them of blocking his requests for ammunition.
- The United States announced a new $400 million military assistance package for Ukraine that includes more ammunition for artillery, armored vehicles and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.
- German defense contractor Rheinmetall is in talks about potentially building a tank factory in Ukraine, CEO Armin Papperger said in an interview with German newspaper Rheinische Post and cited by Reuters news agency. The factory could be set up for around $213 million and produce up to 400 Panther battle tanks per year, he said, adding that he hoped for a decision “within the next two months,” Reuters reports.
- Ales Bialiatski, a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Belarusian court on Friday, continuing a crackdown on dissent that began after pro-democracy protests there in 2020, The Post reported. Bialiatski shared the prize in 2022 with Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties and the Russian human rights group Memorial.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov elicited both “cheers and groans” at a conference in New Delhi, where he said Russia was the victim, not the aggressor, of the conflict in Ukraine. “The war, which we are trying to stop, and which was launched against us, using the Ukrainian people,” he said, prompting derision from an audience that included academics, government officials and business executives. Lavrov drew applause when he criticized Washington’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From our correspondents
When Ukraine goes dark: Although far away from the front lines, Ukrainian cities have been plunged into darkness after repeated Russian strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure, The Post reports. Residents in these urban areas suffer similar challenges: what to eat, when to take the stairs and where to shelter from strikes.
In this 22-story, 114-unit building, power outages mean the parking garage is now a bomb shelter. Living on higher floors used to mean a better view. Now it means a longer climb.