Ukraine said on Thursday it had repelled a day of Russian attacks in and around the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut and made advances of one kilometer in some places while buying time for “certain planned actions.”

The head of the Wagner mercenary force, which is leading the Russian attack on Bakhmut, said his forces had advanced up to 400 meters. “We are pushing Bakhmut to the end,” he said in an audio recording on his Telegram channel.

While Russia was building up its forces in the city, attacking the northern suburbs and fighting fiercely in the southern suburbs, Ukrainian forces were advancing 500 meters in the north and in some parts of the south, a kilometer, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said. , on his Telegram channel.

“The defense of Bakhmut and its periphery is fulfilling its military objectives,” he said. “From now on, we control the southwestern part of Bakhmut.”

He indicated that Russia had attacked Bakhmut throughout the day, having “significantly strengthened” it’s grouping in Bakhmut by moving most of its reserves there.

“Our defenders repelled all the attacks,” he added.

Kyiv has been hailing the successes on the battlefield around Bakhmut for days, which could end up trapping Wagner’s forces inside the city.

Prigozhin, who noted a week ago that the flanks of his forces were under pressure near Bakhmut, said they continued to be eroded. “Most likely, holding Bakhmut is part of the (Ukrainian) counteroffensive plan,” he added.

Moscow sees Bakhmut, a city of some 70,000 before Russia’s full-scale invasion nearly 15 months ago, as a stepping stone to capturing the rest of the eastern Donbas region, something the Russians have failed to do in months.