On Sunday, Russia reported that its forces had advanced in Bakhmut. A senior Ukrainian commander reported that his troops were holding the frontline through the city, which had been nearly destroyed in some of the bloodiest fightings of the 14-month conflict.
The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that its forces had secured two districts in the west and that airborne units were providing reinforcements to the north and south. Russia views Bakhmut as a springboard to further gains in eastern Ukraine.
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi of Ukraine posted images of himself and three other uniformed men poring over a map with the caption "Bakhmut frontline. Our defense continues."
He wrote, "We continue to hold strategic lines while frequently surprising the enemy with attacks."
Reuters was unable to confirm reports from the battlefield.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, commander of the private Wagner military force heading the Bakhmut assault, asserts that 80% of the city is under his control. Kyiv has repeatedly denied rumors that its forces will soon withdraw.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised to continue defending the city.
In an interview with the Al Arabiya news channel published on Sunday, Zelenskiy stated, "It is impossible for us to abandon Bakhmut because doing so would help to expand the battlefront and give the Russian forces and Wagner the opportunity to seize more of our lands."
Also on Sunday, the Russian-installed governor of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson denied a report by a U.S. think tank that Ukrainian forces had established positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
Vladimir Saldo wrote on his Telegram channel, "There is no enemy foothold on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro river... our military has total control over this territory."
Citing Russian military bloggers deployed with Moscow's forces, the Institute for the Study of War reported that Ukraine had "established positions" on the eastern bank, although "at what scale or with what intentions" remained unclear.
Last year, Russia withdrew its forces from the western bank as part of a series of withdrawals that signaled a shift in momentum in favor of Kyiv.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's southern command, neither verified nor refuted the report, which she told Ukrainian television foretold "very powerful shelling" in neighborhoods surrounding the west bank cities of Kherson and Beryslav.
"In response to such intelligence, the enemy has significantly escalated its attacks on the opposing bank," she said. She stated that civilians had been injured, and about thirty structures, including a school, had been devastated.