Russian forces are struggling to capture the eastern city of Bakhmut, despite slowly taking over more parts of the city. The Ukrainian military has been pleading with allies to provide air cover. Ukraine claims that its troops are holding onto parts of Bakhmut while the head of a major pro-Moscow force says that his men are making progress. The attack on Bakhmut is being spearheaded by the private Wagner Group militia, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Telegram that his men had advanced up to 230 metres (750 feet) in some directions on Sunday. Pro-Kyiv units control less than three sq km (1.2 sq miles), he said.
Russian forces have been struggling for months to capture Bakhmut but are slowly taking over more and more of the city. Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said, “Fierce fighting continues in the city of Bakhmut. The enemy is unable to take control over the city, despite throwing all its forces into the battle and having some success.” The Ukrainian military does not reveal exactly how much of the city is in Russian hands.
Separately, Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukrainian troops in the east, told the ICTV channel it was still possible to supply the Bakhmut defenders with food, ammunition and medicine and evacuate the wounded. Russia’s defence ministry earlier said its forces had taken four blocks in western Bakhmut on Sunday. Reuters could not independently confirm the claim.
Ukraine is pleading with allies to overcome their hesitation about supplying modern fighter jets. “Without air cover, it is impossible to achieve good results in both offensive and defensive actions,” air force spokesman Yuri Ignat told TSN television on Sunday, saying it would take months to train pilots on western planes. Prigozhin, who has clashed repeatedly with Russia’s defence ministry, reiterated complaints that Moscow was not supplying his forces with enough ammunition. As a result, Wagner had suffered unnecessarily high losses, he added.