Russia's top military chiefs have visited front lines in Ukraine only sparingly since Moscow sent tens of thousands of Russian troops into the neighboring country just over a year ago in what it calls a "special military operation", Reuters reported.
Shoigu "inspected the forward command post of one of the formations of the Eastern Military District in the South Donetsk direction" during the visit, the Defense Ministry said in a statement published on messaging app Telegram.
Battle for Bakhmut
Pressure mounted Saturday on Ukrainian troops and civilians hunkering down in Bakhmut, as Kyiv’s forces tried to help residents flee amid what Western analysts say may be preparations for a Ukrainian withdrawal from the eastern city that Russian forces have spent months trying to capture, according to AP.
A Ukrainian army representative who asked not to be named for operational reasons told The Associated Press that it was now too dangerous for civilians to leave the city in Donetsk Province by vehicle and that people had to flee on foot instead.
Bakhmut has for months been a key target of Moscow’s eastern offensive, with Russian troops inching ever closer to Kyiv’s key eastern stronghold.
Ukrainian units over the past 36 hours destroyed two key bridges just outside Bakhmut, including one linking it to the nearby town of Chasiv Yar along the last remaining Ukrainian resupply route, according to U.K. military intelligence officials and other Western analysts.
The U.K. defense ministry said in the latest of its regular Twitter updates that the destruction of the bridges came as Russian fighters made further inroads into Bakhmut’s northern suburbs, ratcheting up the pressure on its Ukrainian forces.
Capturing Bakhmut would not only give Russian fighters a rare battlefield gain after months of setbacks, but it might rupture Ukraine’s supply lines and allow the Kremlin’s forces to press toward other Ukrainian strongholds in the eastern Donetsk region.