Russia said today, Tuesday, that its forces are advancing towards the strategic cities of Bakhmut and Voglidar in Donetsk Province, eastern Ukraine, while Kyiv stated that the past 24 hours were the bloodiest for Russian forces in the war so far.
"The battles are progressing successfully in the regions of Voglidar and Bakhmut," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a conference call with Russian military officials, warning the West against any increase in its military aid to Ukraine that could lead to an "unexpected escalation" in the conflict.
The Russian minister spoke about the recent control of 7 towns, including Solidar, which is adjacent to Bakhmut, from which Ukrainian forces withdrew last January.
Bakhmut, just south of Solidar, is a devastated city whose population has been displaced almost entirely. After months of intense fighting, the battle for Bakhmut has become the longest battle in the war between Russia and Ukraine that began nearly a year ago.
The capture of Bakhmut will provide a gateway for Russian forces to continue their advance to complete control of Donetsk Province, which Moscow has set as a military priority.
Moscow also launched an offensive on Vahlidar, south of the city of Donetsk, a Ukrainian-held stronghold on high ground at the strategic junction of the eastern and southern front lines.
Asked if Ukrainian forces were preparing to withdraw from Bakhmut, Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko told local media on Tuesday that "no scenario is excluded."
"All extreme measures are being taken to prevent this from happening," Kirilenko said, adding, "For the time being, Bakhmut is holding out."
Ukrainian officials say Moscow may mobilize weapons and reservists to launch a larger offensive in the coming weeks.
Sergei Gaidai, governor of Lugansk Province, predicted a major Russian offensive there that could begin around mid-February.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western countries to speed up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine - especially long-range missiles - so that his forces could block the advance of Russian forces.
Ukraine's military said on Tuesday that the past 24 hours had been the bloodiest of the war so far for Russian forces.
He explained that 1,030 Russian soldiers were killed last night, bringing the total Russian losses of soldiers to 133,190, according to the Ukrainian account.
For its part, Russia said that it had dropped 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers killed or wounded last January.
#Ukraine: A Ukrainian 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm self-propelled howitzer was destroyed by a Russian Lancet loitering munition in the vicinity of Kreminna, #Luhansk Oblast.
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) February 7, 2023
And the German magazine "Der Spiegel" reported today, Tuesday, that the Security Council of the German government approved the delivery of 178 "Leopard 1" tanks to Ukraine, which is much more than previously announced.
The site added that some tanks will be sent to Kyiv next summer, but the bulk of the "Leopard 1" will be delivered next year.
This step follows the German government's decision last January - following mounting international pressure - to hand over the most advanced "Leopard 2" combat tanks from army stocks.
Since the beginning of the new year, Western countries have pledged to send hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine to support its weapons and its ability to make progress to break through the lines of Russian forces and retake occupied lands later this year.
It is expected that a new US weapons package will include long-range missiles that will give Ukraine the ability to strike Russian supply lines in all the territories it occupies in mainland Ukraine and parts of the Crimean peninsula.
For its part, the European Union said that Zelensky had received an invitation to participate in a summit of union leaders in Brussels, while it would be his first trip - if it takes place - to the capital of the European Union and the second internationally since the start of Russia's war on Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and the Ukrainian presidency did not confirm this. the visit.
An extraordinary summit of European leaders is scheduled to be held next Thursday and Friday, to discuss developments in the war in Ukraine and the European Union's solidarity with Kyiv.
Zelensky visited Washington on December 22, on his first foreign trip, and at that time met US President Joe Biden and delivered a speech to Congress.