Ukraine will decide on Bahmut’s defense – Pentagon

16 March, 11:18 AM
US reacted to the decision to defend Bakhmut (Photo:REUTERS/Alex Babenko)

US reacted to the decision to defend Bakhmut (Photo:REUTERS/Alex Babenko)

Ukraine will make the call as to continue with the defense of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed on March 15.

"In terms of the significance of Bakhmut, I would say — I would point to the fact that President Zelenskyy is fighting this fight, and he will make the calls on what's important and what's not important to his forces, and whether he needs to reposition or remain in Bakhmut," Austin said after a Ukrainian defense contact group virtual meeting.

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He called the possible withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Bakhmut, where the heaviest fighting has been seen in the past months, a "reposition" that could make sense at some point. He added that it wouldn't mean that the war is lost.

"It may mean, and probably will mean that he [Zelenskyy] is positioning himself to maintain advantage, and — and so I think that's the real key there," the Pentagon head said.

Austin admired the valor of the Ukrainian soldiers who "have done amazing things in Bakhmut." He also emphasized that Russia has been working to seize Bakhmut for about seven months.

Ukraine voted unanimously to continue Bakhmut’s defense at a meeting of the Commander-in-Chief's Staff on March 14.

Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said that the defense of Bakhmut is key for the stabilisation of the entire front.

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