After a brutal struggle, the mercenary Wagner Group of Russia claims to have taken control of the critical Ukrainian city of Soledar.
However, according to Kyiv, its forces are standing firm.
"Wagner units seized control of the entire territory of Soledar," the mercenary group's leader Yevgeny Prigozhin told Russian news outlets late Tuesday.
He stated that fighting continues in the town center, where Ukrainian soldiers are surrounded.
Additionally, the Putin ally stated that only Wagner fighters, not part of the Russian army, participated in "the storming."
Moscow could push on the nearby city of Bakhmut, where it has been battling "house to house" to capture control if it seized control of the mining town in Donetsk.
Russia might also march into Ukrainian-controlled territory using Soledar's massive network of salt mine tunnels, the largest in Europe.
On Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defence reported that Russian forces and Wagner mercenaries had advanced tactically into Soledar and likely controlled the settlement.
However, the Ukrainian government has insisted that its troops are holding firm.
The battlefield was "strewn" with Russian bodies, according to the deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar.
According to analysts on both sides of the conflict, the situation on the ground is fluid, and combat is intense, with the Bakhmut region considered the most unstable region of the country.
There is "virtually no life left" in the Bakhmut and Soledar regions, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who claims Russia is intensifying its attacks and "scarring the land" with bombings.
"This is what madness looks like," he remarked.
According to the UK Foreign Office, two British volunteers who departed for the besieged city are missing.
Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry departed Kramatorsk on Friday for Soledar and were reported missing on Saturday evening.
According to Mr. Parry's family, he assisted in evacuating elderly civilians from front-line regions.