incendiary munitions fired near Bakhmout, whose defense is “key” for kyiv

White phosphorus incendiary ammunition was fired by the Russians on Tuesday, March 14, at an uninhabited area in Chassiv Iar, near Bakhmout, in eastern Ukraine, AFP journalists noted. Fierce fighting continues for control of Bakhmout, a city “ key » for the maintenance of « forehead stability in eastern Ukraine, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Tuesday.

Two projectiles were launched on a road at the southern exit of the locality and leading to the nearby town of Bakhmout. Phosphorus munitions are incendiary weapons whose use is prohibited against civilians, but not against military targets, under a convention signed in 1980 in Geneva.

The hiss of the two projectiles in the sky was followed each time by explosions of submunitions, releasing a multitude of small white incandescent balls of phosphorus which fell slowly vertically. Once on the ground, the incendiary balls set fire to the vegetation on each side of the road, on an area approximately equivalent to that of a football field.

AFP was unable to say whether the location targeted was a position or a camp of Kyiv forces, but a green van bearing a white cross, a sign of the Ukrainian army, was parked at the entrance to a path, in the area that was burned.

The first dwellings are about 200 meters from one end of the affected area. kyiv has accused Moscow of having used them on several occasions since the start of the offensive, in particular against the civilian population, which the Russian army categorically rejects.

Defense Stability Key »

Around Bahmut takes place the longest and bloodiest battle since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the defense of which is ” key » for Kyiv : « The defensive operation in this direction is of paramount strategic importance to deter the enemy “, indicated Valery Zaloujny on Telegram, quoted by his press service. ” This is the key to the stability of the defense of the entire front “, he insisted.

He echoed similar recent remarks by President Volodymyr Zelensky who considered that the loss of Bakhmout could allow the Russians to attack and seize other nearby major cities. On Tuesday, following a meeting between the Ukrainian president and the main leaders of his army, the Ukrainian presidency assured in a press release that ” all staff members “had expressed” a common position regarding the continued holding and defense of the city of Bakhmout “.

The city of Bakhmout is located in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

The decision to hold the city at all costs comes as the situation on the ground is becoming more and more complicated for the Ukrainian forces.

On Monday, Ukrainian ground troop commander Oleksandre Syrsky said that ” fierce fighting ” with the Russian forces were underway in the center of Bakhmouta city now completely devastated.

The leader of the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, quoted by Russian news agencies, confirmed on Tuesday that ” fierce fighting “were taking place” literally for every meter of Bakhmout “.

The leader of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgueni Prigozhin, whose men are on the front line in the battlehe indicated that Ukraine was preparing a counter-offensive ” around from the city, without giving further details. He estimated at ” about 70 000 » the number of Ukrainian soldiers mobilized in the area, information impossible to verify from an independent source.

► To read also: Bakhmout, a communication battle?

(With AFP)