Zelenskyy criticizes Kremlin for sacrificing troops in Bakhmut’s ‘waves of meat’ – POLITICO

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KYIV (AP) — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday visited the shattered city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the key node in a 1,300km front line that he says is the “hottest spot” of the war and he epitomizes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to launch his soldiers into suicide attacks. .

In a late night video address on MondayZelenskyy focused on Putin’s cold-blooded disregard for the lives of his forces in Bakhmut, noting that the Russian elite kept their own loved ones away from the carnage.

“Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time is passing and Bakhmut is already breaking not only the Russian army, but also the Russian mercenaries who came to replace the wasted army of the occupiers,” he said, and added. that Russia had already lost almost 100,000 soldiers. “What for? No one in Moscow can answer this question. And they won’t.

“They wage war and waste people’s lives, other people’s lives, not their loved ones, not their own lives, but the lives of others just because a group in the Kremlin cannot admit mistakes and has a terrible fear of reality. But reality speaks for itself,” Zelenskyy added.

Bakhmut was once a center of salt production and a major railway junction in the eastern Donetsk province, but has now been largely destroyed by daily shelling. The flooded trenches and splintered trees on the scorched earth at the front bear a striking resemblance to scenes from World War I.

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy handed out awards on his unannounced visit to support the troops, his spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said in a statement to Ukrainian state channel Freedom TV.

“I think that Bakhmut’s heroes should receive the same as every person. I wish your children, their families, that everything is normal for them, that there is warmth, that there is health. I would like to wish that there was light, but in such a difficult situation, when there is light, then there is no light. The main thing is that there is light inside.” Freedom quoted Zelenskyy as saying, posting a video of the award ceremony.

Ukrainian army soldier Oleksandr Solonko used to be one of Bakhmut’s defenders until last week when his long-awaited rotation began. Like many other Ukrainian fighters, he posted on social media about Russian tactics of throwing their own soldiers to their deaths in so-called “waves of meat”, Solonko claimed that this has become the usual Russian tactic, not just Bakhmut.

“They have been sending their recruits from Russian prisons to the suicide attacks that not only deplete our military equipment, but also help the invading army to mark Ukrainian firing positions,” Solonko told POLITICO.

This also helps the Russians to adjust the artillery fire. After the first suicide wave, there may be new waves of attacks by the Russian army or the Kremlin-backed paramilitary group of Wagner mercenaries could jump right into the battle, Solonko said.

“The Russians are trying to break through to the south of the city to take the road to Kostyantynivka under control of fire. This is a very important transportation artery. They fail to do this,” Solonko added.

Ukrainian serviceman warms up next to his tank in a position near Bakhmut | Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

As for the morale of the Ukrainian troops who have to deal with suicide waves from the Russians every day, Solonko said that it remained high despite all the horrors.

“If we go back, give slack, there will be a new Bucha, a new Mariupol, new executions of civilians and other atrocities committed by the Russian occupiers. Therefore, they must stop here and now, where we are and will be,” Solonko said.

“Despite all the difficulties, despite the cold, the threat of death, there is a clear awareness of the goal and destiny. It helps maintain proper morale,” she added.

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