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Ukraine’s future depends on outcome of ‘painful’ Bakhmut fighting, says Zelensky

Ukraine’s future depends on the outcome of the battle raging around Bakhmut and other strategic cities and towns in the war-ravaged country’s east, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday, calling the fighting "hard" and "very painful".

In his nightly video address, the embattled Ukrainian president said it is “very tough in the east – very painful” as Russian forces continue to resist.

“We have to destroy the enemy’s military power. And we shall destroy it,” Zelensky stated, adding that capturing Bakhmut will open a path to taking control of the entire Donetsk region for Ukrainian forces.

“Bilohorivka and Marinka, Avdiivka and Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Kamyanka – and other places where the kind of future we are to have is being decided. Where our future, the future of all Ukrainians, is being fought for.”

After weeks of fierce fighting, the Ukrainian military has vowed to stand its ground in the strategic region against Russian forces, with a large number of casualties being reported on both the warring sides.

Russian forces led by the Wagner military group have captured Bakhmut’s east but have not yet been able to circle the entire city. NATO had warned last week that Bakhmut could fall within a matter of days.

In his remarks on Sunday night, Zelenskyy said since March 6, Ukraine’s forces had “managed to eliminate more than 1,100 enemy soldiers”, referring to Russians. The claim has not been confirmed by the Russian side.

Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun also claimed on Saturday that its forces had killed 1,090 Russian troops.

Shtupun also claimed the destruction of eight Russian tanks, seven armored fighting vehicles, and four artillery systems in the fighting.

Russia agrees to extend Ukraine grain export deal for 60 days

As one year has passed since the outbreak of the war, the Chinese president plans to visit Russia and Ukraine in hopes to broker peace between the warring sides, according to reports.

According to Reuters, Xi Jinping is planning to visit Russia to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin as early as next week. Xi is also likely to hold a video conference with Zelensky afterward.

Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, to “de-Nazify” and “de-militarize” the country over the threat of the former Soviet republic joining the US-led NATO. Kiev and its allies, however, say they were baseless pretexts for imperial ambitions.

Since the onset of the war, the United States and Ukraine’s other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.

Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance risk prolonging the war that recently completed one year.

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