KYIV (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday Ukraine would fight to hold on to the eastern “fortress” city of Bakhmut for as long as it could, and urged the West to supply long-range weapons to help Kyiv push Russian forces out of the Donbas region.
“Nobody will give away Bakhmut. We will fight for as long as we can. We consider Bakhmut our fortress,” Zelenskiy told a news conference with top European Union officials following a summit in Kyiv.
“If weapons (supplies) are quickened, specifically long range weapons, we not only will not leave Bakhmut, but we will also begin to deoccupy Donbas, which has been occupied since 2014,” he said.
The city of Bakhmut has become the focal point of Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion and of Moscow’s drive to regain battlefield momentum.
Russian officials have said Russian forces are encircling Bakhmut from several directions and battling to take control of a road which is also an important supply route for Ukrainian forces.
Zelenskiy said Russia would continue to push in the east but that Ukrainian forces would be able to hold out until more Western weapons arrived.
(This story has been corrected to change the language of the second quote)
(Reporting by Max Hunder; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Timothy Heritage)