Bakhmut is under siege.
As you approach the storm, the sound of artillery’s rumbling percussion echoes around.
The smoke from the central shelling, which spirals up against a bruised backdrop, is what first catches your attention.
Russia‘s advance in this desperate place is choking roads to this epicentre of war.
We took one of the roads remaining.
It’s a dangerous, anxious journey through smashed-up streets.
Everything is in the fire line.
We see demolished shops, apartments blocks, and even churches.
Both sides suffered terrible losses.
The Kremlin has given the fight to Wagner paramilitary groups – they have sent waves of infantry to capture this once-thriving industrial center.
It is becoming evident that this brutal fight, which began back in August, is now being transformed into urban combat.
The battle of the wits between David and Goliath
We saw Ukrainian forces in the city setting traps and bringing reinforcements.
Hidden among the buildings are lines of Soviet-era tanks, armoured vehicles and armored vehicles.
Dymytro, a soldier of the Azov brigade tells me that the fight has turned into a David-and-Goliath battle for wits.
“We are holding on for now. We will see. We will fight as long as we are fighting with the right spirit! As gunfire ring out, he said.
The city is a symbol of Russia and has a small strategic significance.
While there are still some people trying to salvage their possessions, most of them have already left.
We see a group of men stocking microwaves and refrigerators from their shop.
The remaining people are afraid and dependent on volunteers for aid.
Iryna claims she stays because there is no other place for her.
People go to Dnipro, and they also shell Dnipro, people die there, they hide there, and there was a strike that killed people, so where should they go? It can be found anywhere in Ukraine.
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“We need weapons now, not later”
This defense may be broken soon by the Russian invasion.
According to Ukrainian soldiers, Russian forces are now at the city’s edge.
Andriy from the Rapid Reaction Brigade, National Guard, said they urgently need more modern weaponry to stop Vladimir Putin’s army.
“We need weapons now because tomorrow this city could be destroyed already. If we wait, I will die, but I want life and to support my country.
“If we wait, maybe Russians are in Poland tomorrow. We can wait one month, or one year. But if we cannot stop Russia now, our army must stop Russia tomorrow.”
Bakhmut is gearing up for another major Russian offensive.
They hope to resist, but after losing Soledar, the soldiers expect another brutal and deadly battle.