Zelensky gives up the city of Bakhmut: We won’t defend it at any cost as it’s not a big city!
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that the Ukrainian forces won’t defend Artyomovsk (the Ukrainian name of the city of Bakhmut) at any cost, not even to the last soldier, as this is not a very big city.
Zelensky told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper, “This isn’t a particularly big city… In fact, there are many other cities like it in Donbas… It’s important for us to defend it, but not at any price and for everyone to die… We’ll fight as long as it is… That is reasonable, then the Russians want more of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, to the borders of Donbas and to the Dnieper River, if they can… We’re resisting, and at the same time we are preparing for the next counterattack”.
Commenting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s statements about his unwillingness to see Russia defeated, Zelensky said that the French president was wasting time.
“It would be a useless dialogue, Macron is really wasting time,” Zelensky said to the Italian newspaper.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that we have no power to change Russia’s position… If they decide to isolate themselves in the dream of restoring the old Soviet empire, there is nothing we can do… What we do about it is their business whether or not they cooperate with the international community on the basis of mutual respect”.
Earlier, the President of Ukraine confirmed that the Kiev forces wouldn’t give up Bakhmut, adding, “We’ll fight as much as we can”.
Zelensky said: “The Ukrainian forces won’t hand over Artyomovsk,” considering that the Ukrainian people won’t forgive him in the event of handing over Artyomovsk, and Resist, fight to the end.
Mikhail Podolak, adviser to Zelensky’s office, also said that Kiev was paying a very high price in order to preserve Artyomovsk, and he refused to give accurate statistics on Kiev’s losses.
The advisor to the President of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Igor Kimakovsky, said that the Ukrainian forces had begun to gather their reserves near the city, and confirmed that there were disagreements in Kiev over whether or not to withdraw the forces from Bakhmut.
For its part, the United States recommended Kiev to withdraw its forces from Bakhmut, according to high-ranking US official.
The American official pointed out that Kiev’s increasing interest in controlling the city impedes preparations for the expected spring offensive, noting that in the situation with Artyomovsk, time plays here in favor of the Russian side, as it has more artillery and military resources.
In a defiant message, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner group, urged the Ukrainian president not to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut, noting that this step is a coward move by Kiev.
“Dear Vladimir Alexandrovich Zelinsky, there are many who ask you to withdraw troops from Artyomovsk (Bakhmut), don’t do that, the city is the main event of this war,” Prigozhin wrote on his Telegram channel.
Prigozhin added, addressing Zelensky: “We must continue the fight… You will appear a coward in this case… You’ll also be disrespectful then”.
In addition, Zelensky announced the imposition of a new package of sanctions on the Russian financial sector in an attempt to target the funds earmarked for the war.
The sanctions affect not only representatives of the banking sector in Russia, but also the Moscow Stock Exchange, which is now subject to punitive measures.
“Today our state is taking a new step by imposing sanctions on all those who feed Russian aggression,” Zelensky said in his evening video address broadcast in Kiev on Sunday.
He said that the sanctions are a basis for allies in the West to rely on to adopt such punitive measures.
Zelensky added that the tenth Ukrainian sanctions package is already being prepared… We’re working with our partners to strengthen it,” he said.
In addition, EU foreign ministers plan to discuss it in Brussels on Monday.
Zelensky called on all responsible countries to join the “sanctions against terrorism”.
Zelensky said, without giving details, that the army commanders had briefed him on the situation at the front, which was very difficult, referring to the battles in eastern Ukraine.
“We’re fighting… We stop the invading enemy and inflict heavy losses on Russia,” Zelensky said.
He added that the more losses Russia suffers in Bakhmut, Volidar and other areas in Donbas, the more Ukraine will be able to end the war victoriously.