More than 500 residents, including children, were besieged in the eastern salt mine town of Soledar, where Ukraine said its soldiers were fending off pro-Moscow rebels.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, commended two battalions in Soledar on Thursday for "keeping their positions and inflicting considerable casualties on the enemy" in a video message. He made no more explanations.
In the eastern industrial region known as the Donbas, Zelenskiy said he and top Ukrainian commanders assessed the need for reinforcements in Soledar and adjacent towns, as well as the best course of action for the next days.
An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultra-nationalist contract militia Wagner Group claimed to have captured Soledar after a fierce battle that it claimed left the town littered with Ukrainian bodies.
Although this would be Moscow's first important triumph in six months, Moscow has not yet made an official declaration of victory.
Local lawmaker Andrei Bayevsky, who was brought in from Russia, said in an internet broadcast that "there are still some minor pockets of resistance in Soledar at the present.”
In Soledar, which had a pre-war population of roughly 10,000 people, 559 citizens survived, including 15 children, according to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, who spoke to Ukrainian state television.
Outside of Soledar, a 24-year-old Ukrainian soldier said: "The situation is harsh but steady. We're fighting back while keeping the adversary at bay.”
Even if it were true, U.S. officials questioned the significance of a Russian win in Soledar.
Soledar is located fewer than 10 kilometers (6 miles) northeast of Bakhmut, the scene of one of the deadliest fights of the conflict known as the "meat grinder" that has raged for months.
According to John Kirby, spokesperson for the US National Security Council, "even if both Bakhmut and Soledar fall to the Russians, it's not going to have a strategic influence on the conflict itself, and it isn't going to halt the Ukrainians or slow them down."
If Russia managed to take Soledar, it would probably exploit that advantage to further its attack on Bakhmut. The vast salt mines in Soledar may prove to be a financially advantageous asset.
According to Ukraine's top war crimes prosecutor, Yuriy Belousov, more than 50,000 allegations of suspected war crimes have been made as a consequence of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February, the worst land conflict in Europe since World War Two.
The allegations of torture by pro-Moscow troops include beatings, different types of asphyxia, electric shocks to the genitalia and other areas of the body, and sexual assault.
Moscow denies committing war crimes or deliberately attacking people, claiming that it is engaged in a "special military operation" in Ukraine to safeguard its security. In response, Moscow accuses both the West and Ukraine of disregarding war crimes in Ukraine.
In November, the UN said that it had discovered proof that both sides had tortured POWs.
A day after Valery Gerasimov, the head of the military's general staff, was suddenly granted direct command of the invasion, observers of the Kremlin were looking at Russia's most recent change in the command structure on the battlefield.
Army General Sergei Surovikin, the former commander with a three-month term, was essentially demoted to become one of Gerasimov's three deputies.
Moscow cited the campaign's increasing significance as the reason for the move, which marked at least the third rapid change of senior commander in the 11-month fight.
Since Russia's most significant pullback in the south two months ago, the battle lines in Ukraine have hardly moved. Kyiv thinks that its Western allies' heavy armor will enable it to restart its offensive.
Western nations have begun to provide Kyiv with cutting-edge weapons like the powerful Patriot missile system from the United States. Battle tanks have been the subject of Ukraine's most recent demands, while last week's pledges from the United States, Germany, and France included armored combat vehicles.
14 Leopard combat tanks produced in Germany were pledged to Ukraine by Polish President Andrzej Duda. Zelensky said that this may open the door for other nations to follow suit an interview with TVP Info, state-run network in Poland. Tanks might be sent, according to Britain.
On February 24, Putin declared war, claiming that the security of Russia was endangered by Kyiv's links to the West. It is said to be an unprovoked war to capture land by Ukraine and its allies.
A medical evacuation from Soledar by the Ukrainian military was captured on drone video. The clip showed desolate streets with just a few derelict homes still standing among torched trees and smoldering wreckage.