Ukraine prepares for counterattack as Putin makes nuclear threats
Western battle tanks begin to arrive as Russian forces remain unable to break through Ukrainian defences.
Ukraine’s defences have held up against dozens of daily Russian ground assaults along the eastern front during the 57th week of the Russia-Ukraine war, while promised tanks and fighter jets have arrived to arm Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive.
To this gathering strength, Russian President Vladimir Putin has replied with a nuclear threat widely dismissed as evidence that he did not have an adequate conventional military response.
Bakhmut, the eastern city levelled by months of fighting, remains key.
Assaults stretched from Kupiansk in Kharkiv province to Avdiivka in southern Donetsk.
But the toughest fighting seemed to take place in Bakhmut, where geolocated footage suggested Wagner Group mercenaries made advances from March 28 to 29.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Russian forces had met “with partial success”.
Footage provided by Russian newspaper Ria Novosti suggested Wagner mercenaries had captured the AZOM industrial complex within Bakhmut.
But Ukraine’s defenders were not evacuating.
“We are holding the Bakhmut fortress,” wrote Ukraine’s commander of ground forces Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi.
The coming counteroffensive
In late January, Ukraine’s allies promised to send offensive weapons for the first time – and these began to arrive on schedule.
Eighteen German Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks – four more than expected – arrived on March 27.
“Our tanks, as promised, arrived on time to the hands of our Ukrainian friends,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said.
The following day, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov revealed that 14 British Challenger 2 tanks had also arrived.
“These fantastic machines will soon begin their combat missions,” he said.
And the day after that, Ukraine said it had received three Leopard 2A6 tanks promised by Portugal.
This meant that of the 252 main battle tanks allies promised to Ukraine, 35 had been delivered.
The first four of 13 promised Slovak MiG-29s also landed in Ukraine on March 23.
Source : Aljazeera