the situation at the front is “difficult”, says the head of the Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk Code List

Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to journalists in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on July 13. (Photo: AP)

Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, has called the situation on the region’s frontline “difficult,” according to Russian state media.

In remarks reported by the state news agency RIA Novosti, the Moscow-backed Pushilin said that although the Russian units are advancing, they are not “as fast as we would like.”

He also suggested that advances of between 50 and 200 meters were playing “an important role in liberating populated areas.”

Wagner in Bakhmut: Pushilin also spoke directly about the situation in and around Bakhmut and the use of mercenaries from Wagner, a private Russian military group, in that part of the front line.

He said Wagner’s fighters were clearing Yakovlivka, 16 kilometers (10 miles) northeast of Bakhmut, in the direction of Soledar.

“They are continuing to work around Bakhmut to create the conditions for a fuller sweep of Bakhmut himself,” he said.

Pushilin also commented on the ongoing attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. He described the attacks as successful and “complicate military logistics and inter-unit communications.”

“Taken together, this is creating the conditions for the absolute and precise defeat of the rest of Ukraine to move even closer,” he said.

some context: The city of Donetsk has been occupied by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, yet Ukrainian forces remain within a few kilometers of its limits and maintain most control over the region.

In October, the Russian legislature approved President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex four parts of Ukraine, namely Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson and Luhansk, despite not having full control of those regions. The move is illegal under international law.

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