Ukrainian and Russian armed forces are in incredibly bloody combat in the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut. However, pro-Kyiv troops are still holding on, according to Ukraine's military on Saturday.
Russia's defence ministry reported earlier that Wagner mercenaries had captured two additional areas of Bakhmut, the primary objective of Moscow's offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Since last summer, Wagner has led Russia's attempt to capture Bakhmut, the longest and deadliest war battle for both parties.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, the spokesman for Ukraine's eastern military command, stated that bloody conflicts, unprecedented in recent decades, are taking place in the city's urban core.
"Our soldiers are doing everything they can in bloody, fierce conflicts to erode (the enemy's) combat capability and demoralize it. Every day, in every nook and cranny of this city, they achieve this feat," he told the 1+1 television channel.
The Russian defence ministry reported that Wagner units had captured two locations on the city's northern and southern outskirts. It added that Russian army paratroop units supported the alleged advance by restraining Ukrainian forces on the flanks.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
In a Friday intelligence update, the United Kingdom reported that Ukrainian troops had been compelled to cede some territory in Bakhmut due to Russia's intensified artillery fire over the previous days.
Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of approximately 70,000, is the primary objective of Russia's winter offensive, which has yielded meagre gains despite infantry ground combat of an intensity not seen in Europe since World War II.
In his Saturday video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not mention Bakhmut and reaffirmed Kyiv's desire to join NATO as quickly as possible. Before this could occur, Ukraine would require sufficient security guarantees, he said, without providing specifics.