Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Russia Makes Slow Gains in Bakhmut as Ukraine Fends Off Drone Attacks; UKR pilots evaluated at US Air Force base in unprecedented ‘familiarization event’; Ukraine’s military repels over 130 Russian attacks; Wagner Group's Financier Reflects on Retreat from Bakhmut and Shift of Front Line to Russian Borders, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Photograph by Manu Brabo for The WSJ
WSJ: Russia Makes Slow Gains in Bakhmut as Ukraine Fends Off Drone Attacks:
Russia launched a new wave of drones at Ukraine, most of which were shot down, as fighters from Russia’s Wagner paramilitary organization pressed their slow and grinding advance into the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian air defenses shot down 13 out of the 15 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that flew toward Ukrainian cities overnight, the country’s air force said Monday. It didn’t specify what the remaining two drones hit, but there were no reports of disruption to infrastructure.
Russia, which has sought to destroy Ukraine’s electricity network with waves of missile and drone attacks since October, has reduced the tempo of such strikes in recent weeks as it has begun to exhaust its stockpile of ammunition and as Ukraine has deployed new, Western-provided air defenses. Ukraine hasn’t suffered widespread blackouts for a consecutive 23 days now, according to national-grid operator Ukrenergo.
On the front lines in Bakhmut, the eastern city that Wagner has been storming since July, Ukrainian troops have completed their withdrawal from the roughly one-third of the city’s area that sits on the eastern bank of the Bakhmutka River, soldiers said. Ukrainian forces, for now at least, are concentrating on holding the central and western parts of the city, with easily defensible positions in industrial areas and a warren of high-rise apartment blocks there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed the future of Bakhmut at Monday’s meeting of the country’s top security leadership. Both Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, and Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of Ukrainian land forces who oversees operations in eastern Ukraine, spoke in favor of “continuing the defensive operation and further strengthening of our positions in Bakhmut,” he said.
Mr. Zelensky has come under growing pressure to withdraw from Bakhmut so as to avoid an encirclement and to preserve troops for future operations.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, while traveling with reporters in Amman, Jordan, said Monday that should Ukrainian forces reposition around Bakhmut, that “won’t necessarily mean that the Russians have changed the tide of this fight.” --->READ MORE HERE
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NY POST: Ukrainian pilots evaluated at US Air Force base in unprecedented ‘familiarization event’
The US military is evaluating the skills of two Ukrainian pilots at a base in Tucson, Ariz., as the Biden administration weighs equipping its ally with fighter jets.
The unprecedented “familiarization event” will allow the Ukrainian pilots to learn about Air Force operations and facilitate dialogue between the nations’ militaries, officials said.
Up to 10 more Ukrainian pilots were expected to join their comrades in Arizona to be evaluated on simulators as early as this month, NBC News reports.
“This event allows us to better help Ukrainian pilots become more effective pilots and better advise them on how to develop their own capabilities,” an unnamed defense official said.
Western allies have supplied Ukraine with troves of weapons, including Javelin missiles, IMARS rocket launchers and portable armored bridges. Officials have not yet pledged to send fighter jets or sophisticated remotely piloted drones, despite the pleas of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The program involves watching how Ukrainian pilots conduct their mission planning and execution in flight simulators in order to determine how we can better advise the Ukrainian Air Force on how to use capabilities they have,” an anonymous administration official added.
Ukraine has been forced to rely on outdated Soviet-era fighter jets, and is looking to bolster its fleet with F-16s ahead of an expected recharged Russian spring counteroffensive in its unprovoked invasion’s second year. --->READ MORE HERE 
Follow links below to +++++relevant+++++ and related stories:

+++++Russia-Ukraine News LATEST UPDATES: (REUTERS) (AP) (NY POST) and (WSJ)+++++

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