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Zelensky’s office says Zaluzhny supports further battles in Artyomovsk

It was earlier reported that the situation around Artyomovsk caused disagreement between the Ukrainian president and the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces
 Artyomovsk (Bakhmut)  John Moore/Getty Images
Artyomovsk (Bakhmut)
© John Moore/Getty Images

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, and the commander of the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian armed forces, Alexander Syrsky, have supported further battles in Artyomovsk, a town known in Ukraine as Bakhmut, and efforts to reinforce Ukrainian positions in the town, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s office said on Monday.

The statement followed news media reports that Zelensky and Zaluzhny had differences.

Zelensky held a meeting of top military officers that, among other things, had an in-depth discussion of the situation in Artyomovsk, and asked Zaluzhny and Syrsky about further plans of Ukrainian forces in the area.

"They [Zaluzhny and Syrsky] spoke in favor of continuing the defense operation and further reinforcement of our positions in Bakhmut," said the statement that was published on the Ukrainian presidential website.

The Bild newspaper earlier reported, citing sources, that the situation around Artyomovsk caused disagreement between Zelensky and Zaluzhny. According to the report, Zaluzhny told Zelensky a few weeks ago that Ukrainian troops needed to be pulled out of Artyomovsk. The Ukrainian president, however, had a fundamentally different view on the issue.

Artyomovsk is located in the Kiev-controlled part of the DPR and is an important transportation hub for supplying Ukrainian troops in Donbass. Fierce fighting has been raging for the town. Denis Pushilin, the interim head of the Donetsk People’s Republic said on February 16 that Russian forces had seized control of all key heights near Artyomovsk.

Zelensky said on February 20 that Ukraine would fight for Artyomovsk "while it makes sense." Additional units continue to be sent to the town. Andrey Marochko, a retired lieutenant-colonel of the People’s Militia of the Lugansk People’s Republic, told TASS that Kiev had sent even underage children to take part in the hostilities. Yan Gagin, an adviser to interim head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Monday that Ukrainian forces in Artyomovsk were trapped just like they were in Debaltsevo in 2015.