March 13, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:58 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023
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8:37 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023

Wagner chief admits Ukrainian forces are fiercely fighting in Bakhmut

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian private military company Wagner, has admitted that Ukrainian forces are fighting fiercely in Bakhmut, saying they are “fighting for every meter.”

In a new audio message posted on his Telegram page on Sunday, Prigozhin said, “the situation in Bakhmut is very difficult, the enemy is fighting for every meter. The closer we are to the city center, the harder the battles, the more artillery works against us, and the more tanks.”

“The Ukrainians are throwing up endless reserves,” Prigozhin added.
10:59 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023

Russia maintains assault on Bakhmut and shells nearby city, Ukraine's military says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Sophie Tanno

Russian troops continued to attack the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut Sunday, Ukraine’s military said in an update.

The city of Sloviansk, located about 59 kilometers (36 miles) northwest of Bakhmut, was also hit, the General Staff of the Armed Services of Ukraine said in the note.

“Over the past day, the enemy launched a missile attack on a civilian infrastructure facility in Sloviansk, Donetsk region. The enemy also carried out four airstrikes and fired about 20 times from multiple launch rocket systems,” the update reads. 

Sloviansk is among the towns noted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week as potential next targets for Russia if Bakhmut falls.

“We understand that after Bakhmut (the Russians) could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk, it would be open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview from Kyiv. “That’s why our guys are standing there.”

There have been no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, according to think tank the Institute for the Study of War, but the exact picture of what is happening in the besieged eastern city is difficult to establish.

8:33 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023

No confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, think tank says

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

There have been no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, according to think tank the Institute for the Study of War.

The report published late Saturday said that despite Russian forces and units from the paramilitary Wagner Group launching continued ground attacks in the city, there is no evidence that they made any progress.

“Russian forces did not make any confirmed advances within Bakhmut on March 11.

“Ukrainian and Russian sources continue to report heavy fighting in the city, but Wagner Group fighters are likely becoming increasingly pinned in urban areas, such as the AZOM industrial complex, and are therefore finding it difficult to make significant advances,” the ISW said.

The exact picture of what is happening in Bakhmut is difficult to establish. On Saturday Wagner’s chief said his forces were close to the city center.

Some context: For the first time in eight months, it appears the Russians are on the cusp of taking a Ukrainian city, albeit a small one already abandoned by more than 90% of its prewar population.

Ukrainian defenses in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut have been squeezed in recent weeks by a combination of intense artillery, mortar fire, and airstrikes and a substantial commitment of ground forces, both Russian regulars and fighters of the Wagner private military company.

8:27 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023

Ukraine's foreign minister compares Russia to a burglar in Bakhmut offensive

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Ukraine will fight on in the city of Bakhmut, where Russia's advance can be compared to a burglar trying to “steal everything,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper on Sunday.

Asked whether he thought the city could still be held, Kuleba told the publication: “When someone breaks into your house, you don’t ask yourself how long you can resist the guy who broke into your house and is trying to kill you and your family and steal everything in the house, right?
“You think what else can you do to evict him from your home and get the police to arrest him.”

Kuleba also expressed disdain for protests in Germany calling for an end to the war and to stop the Berlin government from providing Ukraine with more weapons.

“I assure you that every single Ukrainian, even the soldier in the trenches who kills the Russian soldier who is attacking him at this very moment, wants peace more than the most peaceful protester at the Brandenburg Gate,” he said.

8:11 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023

Russian wives and mothers call on Putin to stop sending mobilized men "to the slaughter"

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Heather Chen

A group of Russian wives and mothers have called on President Vladimir Putin to stop sending their husbands and sons “to the slaughter” by forcing them to join assault groups without adequate training or supplies.

In a video shared by the independent Russian Telegram channel SOTA, the women said their loved ones had been “forced to join assault groups” at the beginning of March despite having just four days training since their mobilization in September.

The video shows the women holding a sign in Russian that reads, “580 Separate Howitzer Artillery Division,” dated March 11, 2023.

Read more here.