Ukraine conflict: Zelensky reports a deteriorating situation in Bakhmut

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has stated that the situation in the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut is becoming extremely difficult. Since over six months ago, Russian forces have been trying to take the city.

Mr. Zelensky stated, "The enemy is continually wrecking everything that can be used to defend our positions." During a Monday visit to Kyiv, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen cautioned China against arming Russia, prompting the Ukrainian leader to make his remarks.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago, some of the fiercest fighting has occurred in Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, a portion of which is under the control of Russia and its separatist allies. Recently, Russian forces have intensified their efforts to capture the industrial city, with their troops gaining ground.

Denis Pushilin, the separatist leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, stated that "virtually all roads" leading into the city were "under [Russian] fire control." Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine's ground forces, stated that the situation around Bakhmut was "incredibly tense." "Despite major losses, the enemy deployed Wagner's most prepared assault units, which are attempting to breach our defenses and encircle the city," General Syrskyi said.

In his nightly address, President Zelensky addressed the situation, stating that gaining a strategic advantage in Bakhmut and ensuring its defense were severely compromised by Russia's renewed assault. He was "grateful to every individual who valiantly defended" the area.

President Zelensky also called for the dispatch of modern combat aircraft to protect "the entire region of our country" from "Russian terror."

Janet Yellen announced the latest transfer of $1.25 billion (£1 billion) in economic and budget aid to Ukraine during her unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital on Monday. Ms. Yellen echoed the message conveyed by Vice President Joe Biden during his own visit to Kyiv last week, that the United States would stand with Ukraine for as long as it took to win the war.

Ms. Yellen mentioned that while Russia's economy had not yet collapsed as a result of the extensive sanctions imposed by Western powers, she anticipated that it would weaken over time. She added that Russia's ability to replace military equipment destroyed in attacks on Ukraine was "slowly jeopardized" and that any move by China to supply such weapons to Russia would have "severe" repercussions.

She stated, "We have made it abundantly clear that we will not endure methodical violations by any country of the sanctions we have imposed to deny Russia access to military equipment to wage this war." 

Ms. Yellen also mentioned that it was made very clear to the Chinese government, Chinese firms and financial institutions that infractions of these sanctions will result in severe penalties. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated last week that China was considering supplying Russia with arms and ammunition. Beijing denied the claim vehemently.

Last week's meeting in Moscow between China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, and Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, was interpreted by many as an indication of China's close ties with Russia.