Ukraine war latest: Ukraine vows to hold Bakhmut, as Wagner storms industrial zone in city’s northwest
Key developments on March 14:
Ukraine vowed on March 14 that it would hold on to Bakhmut despite Russia’s grinding assaults since losing the city would affect “the stability of the defense of the entire front.”
Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said that the defense of Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donetsk Oblast nearly emptied of its 70,000 residents, is of “paramount strategic importance for deterring the enemy.”
“It is key in the stability of the defense of the entire front,” Zaluzhnyi said in a Telegram post.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who held a meeting on March 14 with Zaluzhnyi and top military command, said that “all members expressed a common position regarding the further holding and defense of the city.”
The grinding battle of attrition over Bakhmut has raged for eight months, with both sides reportedly suffering heavy casualties. Russia has intensified its offensive on Bakhmut over the past several weeks as it captured neighboring settlements in an attempt to encircle the city.
Russian fighter jet crashes US drone
The U.S. Air Force said that one of Russian Su-27 fighter jets struck the propeller of the U.S. MQ-9 drone at around 7:03 a.m. on March 14, forcing it down into the Black Sea.
The drone was conducting routine operations in the international airspace over the Black Sea when a Russian aircraft hit and destroyed it, U.S. Air Force General James B. Hecker said in a statement.
“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” Hecker said.
The U.S. Air Force said that the Russian Su-27s dumped fuel and flew dangerously close to the U.S. drone several times before the crash in a “reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional manner.”
Despite the U.S. and Russian aircraft constantly flying over the Black Sea since the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, this is the first known case of a direct collision between the two countries.
“We call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker said.
The statement said that the U.S. Air Force conducts routine operations throughout Europe and international airspace in coordination with each country.