Rescuers evacuate a resident from an apartment building that was hit by Russian missile fire in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, February 5, 2023.
'Fierce fighting' took place on Sunday in the northern districts of Bakhmout, a hot spot on the front in eastern Ukraine where President Volodymyr Zelensky recognized a “complicated” situation in the face of troops from Moscow.
The Russian army, supported by the mercenaries of the Wagner group, has been trying since the summer to seize this city in eastern Ukraine, largely destroyed and transformed into a fortress where both sides face heavy losses.
Moscow has made small territorial gains in recent weeks in the area in hopes of breaking the Ukrainian lock on Bakhmout, notably capturing the town of Soledar to the north and more recently the village of Blagodatné.
Fierce fighting is taking place in the northern neighborhoods [of Bakhmout] for every street, every house, every stairwell, said Sunday the boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigojine, whose men are on the front line on place.
The Ukrainian armed forces are not retreating. They are fighting to the last man, he said, quoted by his press service on Telegram.
The Ukrainian general staff confirmed without detailing fighting and bombardments which continue in several points in the east of the country where at least 4 civilians have been killed and 11 injured in the past 24 hours according to regional authorities.
Five people were also injured on Sunday in two Russian strikes on the center of Kharkiv, the country's second city, which hit residential buildings and a higher education institution, according to the head of the regional military administration. from Kharkiv, Oleg Synegubov.
In Bakhmout, AFP journalists attended a liturgy on Sunday held in the basement of the church with the golden bulb of All Saints in the presence of about twenty people, including two Ukrainian soldiers.
Three women sang hymns punctuated by the sound of mortar shells. The room was lit only by about twenty candles and a portable lamp used by the two priests to read the Bible.
Today I' prayed for the best for me after my death, 20-year-old Serafim Chernyshov said outside the church as gunfire and hammering shells to and from the Russian positions constantly resounded.
Last night a missile flew into my backyard and a bullet flew inside my house. She could have touched me. So we have to understand that life is short, I can die now or in 30 years, he continues. If I am killed, it will be God's will, he adds, resigned.
Lioubov Avramenko, 84, said he prayed for freedom. We're sitting in a basement with no water, gas or electricity, she says.
I prayed for my country, for Ukraine, for my family. I'm sure it will all be over soon, wants to believe Svetlana Boïko, 51.
On Saturday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that the situation was getting more complicated on the front line and in particular in Bakhmout, which he had earlier sworn not to abandon and to defend for as long as possible.
“The x27;occupier is increasingly mobilizing its forces to break through our defence”
—Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine
He also cited Vougledar where Russian troops are on the offensive and Lyman, a town recaptured from the Russians during a Ukrainian counter-offensive in 2022.
kyiv, which fears a new major Russian attack, is impatiently awaiting the delivery of weapons promised by the West, including heavy tanks and longer-range rockets.
On Saturday, Canada shipped the first of its committed Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The first Leopard 2 tank donated to Ukraine by Canada left on Saturday. (File photo)
A series of other Western countries have promised new weapons to Ukraine, including the United States, France, but also Germany after some hesitation over the delivery of its Leopard tanks.
Western arms deliveries are crucial for kyiv and have drawn the ire of Moscow, which has brandished the threat of an escalation of the conflict that began in February 2022.
A European embargo on petroleum products exported by sea is also due to come into force on Sunday, a negative measure that will further unbalance the markets, according to the Kremlin.