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Russian Defence Minister visits Ukraine frontline as fall of Bakhmut appears imminent

A file image of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (Image courtesy: Ministry of Defence, Russia)

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected the forward command posts in Eastern Ukraine on Monday, along with the newly-developed infrastructure facilities in the devastated port city of Mariupol, even as fierce fighting rages in the industrial city of Bakhmut.

As part of a working trip to the zone of a ‘Special Military Operation’, Shoigu inspected the restoration of the infrastructure of Donbass by the Military Construction Complex of the Russian Ministry of Defence.

In the war-ravaged Mariupol, he inspected the readiness of already commissioned facilities, including a multifunctional medical center, a republican rescue center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and a new micro district of 12 five-story residential buildings.

Shoigu checked the progress of work at the sites of facilities under construction, including a modern complex of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia, a new residential micro district of six nine-story buildings, a school and a kindergarten.

“Also, Army General Sergei Shoigu heard a report on the construction of the largest water conduit leading from the Don River in the Rostov Region to the Seversky Donets-Donbass Canal of the Donetsk People’s Republic. This facility will provide water to many settlements in the region,” said a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Shoigu also inspected the forward command post of one of the formations of the Vostok group of troops in the South Donetsk direction. while working in the zone of the special military operation.

At the command post, he heard a report by the commander of the group, Colonel-General Rustam Muradov and headquarters officers on the current situation and the actions of the troops.

Meanwhile, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky began Monday with a high-level meeting with the commanders of the operational and strategic groups of his troops, specifically reviewing the situation in Bakhmut in detail as the parties discussed the supply of weapons and equipment and their distribution to operational directions.

“Assessing the course of the defence operation, the President asked Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny and Commander of the Khortytsia operational and strategic group of troops Oleksandr Syrskyi about further actions in the Bakhmut direction. They spoke in favor of continuing the defence operation and further strengthening our positions in Bakhmut,” said Zelensky’s office.

As the fall of Bakhmut to Russians appears imminent after a bloody seven-month war, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday that it would not mean that Moscow has turned tide of war.

“I think it is more of a symbolic value than it is strategic and operational value,” Austin, who is on a trip to Jordan, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

On Friday, Washington announced that it will transfer military equipment worth up to $400 million to Ukraine to aid its defence against the Russian forces.

The latest package will provide additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, artillery rounds, ammunition and more armoured vehicle-launched bridges.