MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Russian forces will soon close the encirclement around the city of Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine), head of the Russian delegation to the Vienna talks on military security and arms control Konstantin Gavrilov said on Thursday.
"Our forces are advancing in squares and Bakhmut will certainly be taken in the near future because the encirclement is closing," he told the Rossiya-24 TV channel.
Gavrilov also noted that there were a large number of mercenaries from NATO countries, namely Poland, along that part of the frontline. "There are about 20,000 mercenaries, everyone has been openly reporting about this and foreign languages are really heard," he stressed.
However, in Gavrilov’s words, it is in the interests of the US and its allies to withdraw Western mercenaries and military equipment from Ukraine in order to avoid a direct confrontation with the Russian army. "After all, they are gradually dragging NATO into a direct conflict, whether they want it or not," the diplomat emphasized.
Artyomovsk, located in the Kiev-controlled part of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), is an important transport hub in terms of Ukrainian military supplies. Heavy fighting is raging in the area. Acting DPR head Denis Pushilin said on February 16 that Russian forces had seized all the high ground in the Artyomovsk area.