NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut may fall into Russian hands in the coming days following months of intense fighting.
His remarks come as Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which has spearheaded the attack on Bakhmut, claimed to have captured the eastern bank of the industrial town that has been devastated in the longest battle since Moscow invaded.
In Stockholm, EU ministers were discussing plans to ramp up defence production and rush ammunition to Ukraine as it burns through thousands of howitzer shells each day.
Wagner chief and Kremlin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin said on social media Wednesday that his forces “have taken all of the eastern part of Bakhmut”, a salt-mining town with a pre-war population of 80,000.
The intense fighting around Bakhmut has been the longest and bloodiest in Russia’s more than year-long invasion, which has devastated swathes of Ukraine and displaced millions of people.
“What we see is that Russia is throwing more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality they try to make up in quantity,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Stockholm on the sidelines of an EU defence ministers meeting.