Zelenskyy fears that if Bakhmut falls, the Ukrainians will lose the will to fight and urge him to negotiate with Moscow

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits positions of Ukrainian troops in the city of Bakhmut and Lysyhansk districts, Ukraine, June 5, 2022.Getty Images

  • Zelenskyy fears that if Bakhmut falls, he will be pressured to negotiate with Russia.

  • “Our society will push me to compromise with them,” he told the AP.

  • Western military analysts have suggested that Bakhmut is strategically insignificant.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fears that a fall of Bakhmut to Russia would break the fighting spirit of his people and urge him to negotiate with Russia.

In a new interview, Zelenskyy said the Associated Press that if Russian forces capture the eastern Ukrainian city, he would quickly feel pressure from around the world and from Ukrainians. “Our society will feel tired,” said Zelenskyj. “Our society will push me to compromise with them.”

Kyiv has pushed back against calls for talks with Moscow as Russian forces continue to launch attacks, including in civilian areas. The Ukrainian government has repeatedly said it would not agree to any terms that would oblige it to cede territory to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex four Ukrainian territories in September has hardened Kiev’s position in this regard and made the prospect of negotiations less likely.

Bakhmut has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war. The battle for the city lasted seven months, making it the longest battle of the war.

But the US has downplayed the strategic importance of the city, which had a population of about 70,000 before the war. And leading military analysts have suggested that by devoting valuable personnel and resources to capturing Bakhmut, Ukraine is hampering its ability to launch another counteroffensive. But Zelenskyy and his top military advisers have spoken out against withdrawing their forces, and the Ukrainian leader seems more concerned about the symbolic cost of losing the city than the strategic implications.

If Russia wins at Bakhmut, it would offer Moscow its first battlefield victory in months, and Putin would “sell that victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” Zelenskyy told the Associated Press. “If he feels some blood – smells that we’re weak – he’ll push, push, push.”

Russian forces currently occupy about 65% of Bakhmut after capturing another 5 percent of the city in the last week, the authorities said latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, which closely followed the war in Ukraine.

Continue reading the original article Business Insider

Source : news.yahoo.com

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