According to the deputy mayor, citizens are dying and being injured daily in the besieged city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine as conflict between Russian forces and Ukrainian forces rages all around it.
In its methodical progress across the Donetsk region, one of the areas the Kremlin claims to have seized following what Kyiv and the West contend were fraudulent referendums in September, the Russian military has made Bakhmut a top priority.
Kyiv’s military says the area is the site of some of the heaviest fighting with Russian forces, and deputy mayor Oleksandr Marchenko told Reuters that Russia’s troops were “trying to storm the city from several directions”.
Reuters could not independently confirm his account of the battlefield situation.
“With every day it’s becoming harder and harder to survive in this city,” Marchenko said from inside an empty government building as mortar fire boomed nearby.
He said more than 120 civilians have been killed in Bakhmut since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
Ukrainian troops are “firmly holding the frontline”, Marchenko said, while describing a deteriorating humanitarian situation facing the city, where the population has fallen from its pre-war level of about 80,000 to as low as 12,000 today.
It has already been without electricity, gas and running water for nearly two months.
Marchenko said local citizens still venture out to shop, collect humanitarian aid or gather water despite being urged to evacuate. He added that the winter would be most difficult for the elderly and infirm.
“We’re holding on and hoping that the armed forces of Ukraine will be able to repel the enemy further from the city,” he said.