(CNN) — Alexander Rudnyansky, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on economic affairs, told CNN on Tuesday that the Ukrainian military is studying “all options” on the besieged city of Bakhmut, including a “strategic withdrawal” if necessary.
Rodniansky described, to CNN correspondent Issa Soares, the situation in Bakhmut as “difficult”, and stated: “There is no secret in that,” and added: “Russia is trying to surround it now, and they are using the best elements of the (Wagner) military group, it seems, the most trained.” and experience.”
He continued, “Obviously, our army will consider all options so far, as you know, they have taken control of the city, but, if necessary, they will retreat strategically, and if we withdraw, we will make sure that we protect the area west of Bakhmut.”
Zelensky said, on Tuesday, that the biggest challenge facing Ukraine is to defend the city of Bakhmut, adding that “the most difficult situation in Bakhmut, and that fighting the battles is necessary to defend the city.”
Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces are shelling the city heavily, but it is not surrounded, and it is believed that several thousand civilians are still present in the eastern city, from which most humanitarian aid has been cut off.
When asked about the timetable, Rudnyansky replied that “it is up to the army to decide at what point the withdrawal will be,” but added: “They will retreat, or they will surrender if they think the cost of continuing outweighs the gains.”
He stated: “We have been keen over the past months to fortify the area west of Bakhmut, which was not well fortified just two months ago, so it is a completely different situation, and if we want to withdraw, this does not necessarily mean that the Russians will be able to advance very quickly, and whatever happens, Our counterattacks will be just around the corner soon.”
“It will be very similar to what happened earlier in the year around Kharkiv, which the Russians took but then we took back in just a matter of days,” he said.
Rodniansky expressed his “frustration” at the arrival of Western weapons “too late,” and stated: “It started arriving, unfortunately, late, and this is a tragedy. We could have started training our forces, or sent them to Germany months ago in order to prepare, but now we are facing This delay, and Russia is exactly trying to exploit that timetable for its own benefit.