Russia-Ukraine War: As the battle raged, Moscow said it shot down Ukrainian drones targeting civilian sites in Russian territory while another one crashed near the capital.
Pressure is mounting on Ukrainian forces as fighting for the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut is getting ever more brutal with Russia losing hundreds of troops a day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday.
As the battle raged, Moscow said it shot down Ukrainian drones targeting civilian sites in Russian territory while another one crashed near the capital.
AFP aerial footage released Tuesday showed almost all buildings in Bakhmut in ruins and smoke rising over the city once known for its sparkling wine production and salt mines.
"The most difficult, as before, is Bakhmut... Russia does not count people at all, sending them to constantly assault our positions," Zelensky said, adding that Russia has lost some 800 soldiers since Thursday in one direction alone. "The intensity of the fighting is only increasing."
Bakhmut may hold more political importance than military value, with Moscow eager for any victory after months of slow gains in the east and setbacks elsewhere, but Zelensky has vowed to defend it as long as possible.
"The situation around Bakhmut is extremely tense," the commander of Ukraine's ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said earlier Tuesday.
"Despite taking significant losses, the enemy has dispatched its best-trained Wagner assault units to try to break through the defences of our troops and surround the city," Syrskyi added, referring to the Russian mercenary group.
Bakhmut 'will fall'
Bakhmut, which once had a population of around 70,000 people, has seen a gradual exodus and now only 5,000 civilians remain including some 140 children, according to officials.
"I think Bakhmut will most likely fall," a Ukrainian soldier with the call sign "Fox" told AFP journalists there this week, conceding that Russian forces were making gains around the city.
"They say (Russians soldiers) are idiots, alcoholics and drug addicts," the 40-year-old said.
"But they have smart people there, people who know how to fight... They think, they learn, the same way we do."