Ukraine said on Sunday its troops were clinging to parts of the eastern town of Bakhmut, the focus of a protracted Russian assault, while the leader of a major pro-Moscow force said his men were advancing.
Russian forces, which have struggled for months to capture Bakhmut, are slowly taking over the city.
“Fierce fighting continues in the town of Bakhmut. The enemy is unable to take control of the city, although it threw all its forces into the battle and achieved some success,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said.
“The defense of Bakhmut is coping with its military tasks,” she said in a Telegram message. The Ukrainian army does not reveal exactly which part of the city is in Russian hands.
Separately, Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukrainian troops in the east, told ICTV that it was still possible to provide Bakhmut defenders with food, ammunition and medicine and to evacuate wounded.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that its forces took four blocks in western Bakhmut on Sunday. Reuters could not independently confirm the claim.
Ukraine, which says its forces are waiting for better weather before launching a long-promised counter-offensive, is pleading with its allies to overcome their hesitations about providing modern fighter jets.
“Without air cover, it is impossible to achieve good results in offensive and defensive actions,” Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat told TSN television on Sunday, saying he would take months to train pilots on Western planes.
The attack on Bakhmut is being carried out by the Wagner Group’s private militia, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Telegram his men had advanced up to 230 meters (750 feet) in some directions on Sunday. Pro-kyiv units control less than three square kilometers (1.2 square miles), he said.
Prigozhin, who has repeatedly clashed with the Russian Defense Ministry, reiterated his complaints that Moscow was not supplying its forces with enough ammunition. As a result, Wagner had suffered unnecessarily high losses, he added.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)