The Ukrainians claim that Russia's goal is to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9

Chasiv Yar / Photo EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK

Ukraine's commander-in-chief announced that Russian forces aim to capture the town of Chasiv Yar by May 9, setting the army up for a key battle for control of the eastern high ground where Russia is focusing its attacks.

The fall of the city west of the shattered city of Bakhmut by the date Moscow marks the Soviet victory in World War II will signal growing momentum on the Russian battlefield as Kiev faces a slowdown in Western military aid. Reuters.

Colonel General Oleksandr Sirski, who warned at the weekend that the situation in the east was deteriorating, said Russia was focusing its efforts west of occupied Bakhmut to try to capture Chasiv Yar before moving on the city of Kramatorsk.

Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region is located 5-10 kilometers from Bakhmut, the ruined city captured by Russian forces last May after months of bloody fighting.

For now, the Kiev brigades are holding off attacks near Chasiv Yar and have been reinforced with ammunition, drones and electronic warfare devices, he wrote in a Telegram post.

"The threat remains relevant, given the fact that the senior Russian military leadership has tasked its troops with capturing Chasiv Yar by May 9," he said, without elaborating.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, writing on Facebook, said he visited Ukrainian units on the eastern front on Sunday and described the situation as "tense", with Russia trying to advance in areas west of Bakhmut.

"Despite the numerical superiority of the enemy, we effectively disrupt these plans thanks to the courage, training and professionalism of the defenders," he wrote.

Russia marks May 9 with a large military parade in Red Square overseen by President Vladimir Putin, who won a new six-year term in the Kremlin in tightly controlled elections in March.

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