Ukraine said that its troops were still advancing along the sides of the destroyed city of Bakhmut but the “intensity of their movement” has decreased.
The Russians claimed to have taken over the entire city on Saturday, but Ukrainian officials claim that they still control only a small portion.
Hanna Maliar, the Deputy Minister of Defence, reiterated on Monday that Ukraine has a very small foothold in the city which has been a scene of fierce fighting.
She said on tv that “our movement to the flanks, to the north and to the south, allows us to destroy our enemy.”
“Our armed forces made it difficult for the enemy to move along the flanks by occupying certain heights.
The enemy will stay in the city.
She said, “We’re still making progress but it is a little less intense.”
She wrote on Telegram: “The enemy has suffered huge losses, and we have gained more time to discuss certain actions.”
The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy compared the destruction in Bakhmut with that which was inflicted upon Hiroshima, Japan after the atomic bombing in 1945.
Zelenskyy said “there’s nothing left”, and that the invading force had “destroyed” everything, fueling speculation about its fall.
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The attack came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his soldiers for the capture of the city in the Donetsk Region.
On Saturday, the Kremlin’s Defence Ministry and the head of the Wagner mercenary Group, Yevgeny Prgozhin, both , claimed that the area is under Russian control.
The Ukrainian leader, speaking at the G7 summit, in Hiroshima where he was trying to rally support from the international community, said: “I understand exactly what is happening in Bakhmut.”
“I can’t share the tactical perspectives of our soldiers, our warriors.
“But today, we can see that a country dozens of times larger than us cannot occupy or win this war.
“Bakhmut has not been occupied by the Russian Federation since today.”
Mr Zelenskyy said: “I can honestly say that the images of ruined Hiroshima remind me of Bakhmut, and other settlements and towns of similar nature.
“It’s the same. Nothing is left alive, the buildings are all ruined. It is impossible to tell where the street used to be, or where the old houses were.
This is a completely destroyed area. There’s nothing left and not a single human remains.”
Analysts said Bakhmut’s fall would be an important blow for Ukraine, and would give Russia some tactical advantages. However, it would not have a decisive impact on the outcome of war.
The Russians would still have a massive task to complete in regaining the Donetsk Region, which is still under Ukrainian control. This includes several heavily fortified zones.