Ukrainian forces have reported “unprecedented bloody battles” in Bakhmut, as Kyiv continues desperately to hold off Russian offensives in the embattled eastern city.
“Bloody battles unprecedented in recent decades are taking place in the middle of the city’s urban area,” said Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command.
“Our soldiers are doing everything in bloody and fierce battles to grind down [the enemy’s] combat capability and break its morale,” he told Ukrainian media.
In the latest statement that openly acknowledged Wagner’s key role in the fight near Bakhmut, Russia’s Defence Ministry on Sunday announced that assault units from the mercenary group had captured two neighbourhoods in the city’s suburbs – with the support of airborne units from the regular Russian army.
Bakhmut, a former mining hub now largely reduced to ruin, has been a key target of Russia’s months-long grinding campaign in eastern Ukraine.
Capturing it would give Russian forces a long-awaited battlefield victory, and potentially pave the way for them to threaten major Ukrainian-held cities in the region, such as Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
Sloviansk death toll rises
The death toll from Russian missile strikes on the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk rose to 13 on Sunday, Ukraine’s state emergency service said.
That’s after rescue crews pulled the body of a man from the rubble of an apartment building, according to the state emergency service.
In a Telegram post, the agency said that more people could be trapped in the ruins, but did not specify whether they were alive or dead.