Situation ‘critical’ in Bakhmut as retreat contemplated

Russia and Ukraine locked horns on Thursday following Moscow’s accusation that a Ukrainian sabotage group had crossed the border into Russia’s Bryansk region and had fired at civilians and taken some hostage in one village.

Ukraine rejected the accusations, saying Russia was behind a “deliberate provocation” but also claimed anti-government Russian partisans were behind the attack.

Back in Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be tightening the noose around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, prompting military analysts in Ukraine to question whether a tactical withdrawal by Ukrainian forces must be seriously considered now.

Standard Russian units and mercenary fighters belonging to the Wagner Group have been slowly advancing on the industrial city in eastern Ukraine since the start of the year, although fighting has been taking place around Bakhmut for seven months. Reports increasingly suggest routes into the city are being cut off as Russian forces encircle it.