US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that he applauds the "valor" and the "persistence" of the Ukrainian soldiers fighting in Bakhmut.
"They have done amazing ... I think the Russians have been working to take Bakhmut for some seven months or so now and they haven't been very successful – and that's because of the diligence, the commitment, the focus of the Ukrainian soldiers," Austin said.
He added that any decision on whether Ukrainian forces should remain in the eastern city or be repositioned would be made by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"The point that I would make is if he does make a call to reposition at some point in time, it doesn't mean that the war is lost. It may mean, and probably will mean, that he is positioning himself to maintain advantage," Austin added.