Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Ukrainian service members ride atop a tank near Bakhmut on March 4.
Ukrainian service members ride atop a tank near Bakhmut on March 4. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Gen. Lord Richard Dannatt, formerly a top military leader in the United Kingdom, said Sunday that it makes “complete sense” for Ukraine’s troops to “withdraw to a more defensible line,” in the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut

Dannatt is the UK’s former chief of the General Staff — the professional head of the British Army. Speaking on Britain’s Sky News, he argued that Bakhmut is strategically “not very significant” to Ukraine.

Despite that, the besieged city has already served effectively as “the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken, and therefore it makes complete sense for the Ukrainians now to withdraw to a more defensible line and continue the battle there,” Dannatt said.

What fighters on the frontline are saying: A local Ukrainian commander on Sunday dismissed the growing speculation of a possible withdrawal from the city, saying there have been no “tactical changes” on their side.

“On the contrary, some new reserves are coming in as reinforcement to hold the defense,” said Volodymyr Nazarenko, a deputy commander in Ukraine’s National Guard. “The entire combat area is under chaotic shelling but there is connection with the city, there are routes that are not cut off.”

More from Dannatt on the shape of the war: The general said it will be key for Ukraine to hold off Russia’s current offensives, which he believes will intensify. Then, in the late spring or early summer, Ukraine “can mount a really strong counteroffensive utilizing the modern equipment that we are now giving them,” he said.

“I think that I am not alone in believing that a few decisive blows struck at certain points along that very extended front on the Russian army could well have the effect of breaking the morale of the Russian soldier or breaking the back of the Russian army,” Dannatt said.  

Asked about the West supplying equipment to Ukraine, the general said: “To be frank, I don’t think we have done enough. We need to do as much as we possibly can to ensure that this war is concluded this year.”  

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