The pressure on Ukrainian troops and citizens entrenched in Bakhmut is increasing as Kyiv's forces attempt to assist inhabitants in fleeing the besieged eastern city.
Saturday, while attempting to cross a temporary bridge out of Bakhmut, a woman was killed, and two men were severely injured by shelling, according to Ukrainian troops assisting them.
A representative of the Ukrainian army who requested anonymity for operational reasons told The Associated Press that it was now too dangerous for residents to leave the city by vehicle and that they must instead walk on foot.
Bakhmut has been a primary goal of Moscow's arduous eastern offensive for months. Russian troops, including significant forces from the private Wagner group, are inching progressively closer to Kyiv's crucial eastern stronghold.
Saturday, Associated Press reporters near Bakhmut reported seeing the Ukrainian military construct a pontoon bridge to enable the city's few remaining residents to the neighbouring village of Khromove. Afterwards, they observed at least five burning homes in Khromove due to the attacks.
According to UK military intelligence sources and other Western analysts, in the previous 36 hours, Ukrainian soldiers have demolished two important bridges just outside Bakhmut, including one connecting the city to the nearby town of Chasiv Yar along the only available Ukrainian resupply route.
In the most recent of its frequent Twitter updates, the British Ministry of Defense stated that the demolition of the bridges occurred as Russian forces advanced farther into Bakhmut's northern suburbs, increasing the pressure on the city's Ukrainian defenders.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, concluded late Friday that Kyiv's moves might signal an impending withdrawal from portions of the city.
According to the document, Ukrainian troops may "conduct a limited and controlled withdrawal from challenging sections of eastern Bakhmut" while attempting to impede Russian progress and restrict western departure routes.
Friday, Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin declared that his troops had effectively surrounded Bakhmut. In his recent video, Prigozhin directly urged Zelenskyy to leave the city.
Taking Bakhmut would not only provide Russian forces with a rare victory on the battlefield after months of failures but also allow the Kremlin's forces to advance on other Ukrainian strongholds in the eastern Donetsk region.
While the conflict continued, the remaining inhabitants in the region described their daily struggles under the nearly constant enemy fire. Hennadiy Mazepa and Natalia Ishkova, both residents of Bakhmut, elected to remain in the city even after intense fights turned much of it to rubble.
Ishkova told the Associated Press on Saturday that they lacked food and essential utilities.
"Humanitarian [assistance] is only provided to us once every month. " No electricity, water, or natural gas," she stated. "I pray to God that everyone who remains survives."
According to Ukraine's emergency services, the death toll from a Russian missile strike on a five-story apartment building in southern Ukraine on Thursday has grown to ten.
Around 36 hours after a Russian missile tore through four storeys of a building in the riverfront city of Zaporizhzhia, the Main Directorate of Ukraine's State Emergency Service reported in an online statement that rescuers had rescued three more bodies from the rubble overnight. It was stated that a youngster was among the deceased and that rescue efforts were ongoing.
The local military administration also stated that two citizens of front-line settlements in the nearby Zaporizhia province were killed by Russian bombardment on Saturday.
Saturday, regional governor Serhiy Lysak reported that a 57-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man died in Nikopol, a town further west that borders the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, when Russian forces stationed there fired artillery shells and rockets at Ukrainian-held territory across the Dnieper River.
In the southern province of Kherson, a Russian grenade struck a police van in the village of Antonivka, injuring four police officers, according to the local police department's Facebook page.
Zelenskyy has vowed to defend "fortress Bakhmut" for as long as possible and has urged supporters to rally their support to aid his forces in this endeavour.
Saturday, the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, travelled to Ukraine, where she advocated for the country to begin EU membership negotiations this year.
On Friday, US Vice President Joe Biden welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his first visit since the offensive in a show of partnership following disagreements over the deployment of tanks to Ukraine.
Before the meeting, the Kremlin warned that the delivery of weapons would "extend the conflict and have dire consequences for the Ukrainian people."
The United States responded to Moscow's caution against arming Ukraine further by giving an additional $400 million in security support.