Why Russia and Ukraine are fighting over Bakhmut

If there’s one city that has come to symbolize the grinding war of attrition in Ukraine, it’s Bakhmut.

Russian military and Wagner Group mercenary forces have pummeled the city for months, reducing it to a charred ghost town. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mourned the destruction of the city on Sunday, saying ravaged Bakhmut now lives “only in our hearts.”

Before Russia’s invasion last year, Bakhmut was mostly known as a center of the salt industry. But the relentless, intensifying fight for control of the city — which analysts say holds little strategic importance — has made it a rallying cry and political battleground for both sides. The city has long appeared to be on the verge of falling, but Ukrainian officials say fighters there are clinging on.

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