NATO chief: Russian forces may take Bakhmut ‘in the coming days’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks
AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, file
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Feb 24, 2022.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday that the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, where government troops have tried to dig in, may fall to Russian forces in the coming days.

“And over the last weeks and months, we have seen fierce fighting in and around Bakhmut, and what we see is that Russia is storming in more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality, they try to make up in quantity,” Stoltenberg said ahead of a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union.

“They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days,” he added of the city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

Stoltenberg said the capture would not be a “turning point” of the war but a reminder to allies that they should not “underestimate” Russia.

He also said that NATO members should continue to support Ukraine, and that they should focus on ramping up ammunition stockpiles, saying that he welcomes NATO members who have signed new contracts with the defense industry to address any ammunition issues.

“This is an issue that NATO Allies have addressed for some time,” he said. “And we are now going to agree new guidelines, new requirements for stockpiles of ammunition, ensuring that we both can replenish our own stockpiles, but also to continue to provide support to Ukraine.” 

Russia leaders claimed on Wednesday that they are in full control of eastern Bakhmut, where Russian mercenary group Wagner has spearheaded a six-month effort to take the city. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said that his group controls all districts east of the Bakhmutka River.

The Institute for the Study of War also wrote on Tuesday that Russia has “likely” captured the eastern part of the city, but added that Russia likely does not have enough resources to advance past Bakhmut.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed that his country will continue to defend Bakhmut and told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview airing Wednesday night that the city is “tactical” for Ukraine.

Tags Bakhmut Jens Stoltenberg NATO russia Russia-Ukraine war ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

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