According to Ukrainian and British military analysts, a months-long ground assault on the eastern town of Bakhmut may have stalled in the face of stiff opposition as Russian drones and missiles pounded Ukrainian cities.
Russian military launched a barrage of airstrikes in the north and south of Ukraine on Wednesday as President Vladimir Putin bid farewell to Chinese leader Xi Jinping after his two-day visit to Moscow.
But, due to the Ukrainian troops' tenacious resistance in Bakhmut, the site of Europe's worst infantry combat since World War II, British military intelligence believes Russia's assault on the city may be faltering.
Wednesday's intelligence report from the British Ministry of Defense indicated that there was still a risk that the Ukrainian force in Bakhmut could be surrounded.
General Staff of the Ukrainian military agreed that Russia's offensive potential in Bakhmut was waning.
Bakhmut has become a top priority for Moscow, which views the town as a stepping stone toward completing its takeover of the eastern Donbas region.
As a show of defiance, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a video showing him distributing medals to troops near the Bakhmut front line.
In a YouTube presentation, military expert Oleh Zhdanov stated, "Ukrainian forces have more or less stabilized the situation in Bakhmut, while Russian forces remain powerless."
They may have gained a few hundred meters north or south of the city, but this has accomplished nothing.
During Wednesday night, air raid sirens blared throughout Kyiv and northern Ukraine, and the military said it had shot down 16 of 21 Shahed suicide drones manufactured in Iran.
Firefighters battled a conflagration in two neighbouring residential buildings in the southern city of Zaporizhzhya, where officials reported at least one fatality and 33 injuries from a double missile attack.
At least eight people were killed, and seven were injured after a drone struck two dormitories and a college in Rzhyshchiv, a riverfront town south of Kyiv, regional police commander Andrii Nebytov said.
"Today cannot become "just another day" in Ukraine or anywhere. The international community must be more united and determined to combat Russian terrorism more quickly and save lives, "Zelenskiy tweeted alongside a video of a building bursting captured by a security camera.
The Zaporizhzhia crime scene's playground and parking lot was covered with broken glass, garbage, and destroyed vehicles. Emergency personnel evacuated the injured as well as those unable to move.
A senior citizen with a scratched face sat alone on a park bench, wiping away tears and muttering prayers.
"There was destruction, smoke, people yelling, and rubble when I exited the building. Suddenly firefighters and rescue personnel arrived, "said Ivan Nalyvaiko, 24.
Foreign organizations predict the cost of rebuilding Ukraine will be $411 billion, or 2,6 times Ukraine's gross domestic product, for 2022.
Putin's hosting of Xi in Moscow this week was his most significant diplomatic gesture since he authorized the invasion of Ukraine'sneighbourr 13 months ago and became an international pariah.
The two men spoke to each other as "dear friend," promised economic cooperation, blasted the West, and hailed the state of their relationship as the finest it has ever been.
Xi left while telling Putin: "Today, changes have not occurred in the past century. Together, we are the force behind these developments."
"I agree," Putin said.
Yet, the public statements were unusually vague, and throughout the tour, Xi said almost little regarding the Ukraine conflict beyond saying China's viewpoint was "impartial."
The White House pushed Beijing to exert more pressure on Moscow. In addition, Washington criticized the timing of Putin's trip, which occurred just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on allegations of war crimes.
China has suggested a peace plan for Ukraine, which the West mainly views as ambiguous at best and a tactic to allow Putin time to reorganize his forces at worst.
Ukraine asserts that peace is impossible unless Russia withdraws from occupied territory. Moscow contends that Kyiv must recognize territorial "reality" in light of its claim to have taken a quarter of Ukraine.