STORY: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that his country's forces were standing their ground in the Donbas, as Russian forces reduced the town of Bakhmut to rubble.
In an evening address, the Ukrainian leader said the situation on the front line in the Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, remained very tough.
"The occupiers have practically destroyed Bakhmut - another Donbas city, which the Russian army turned into burnt ruins. I thank all our heroes, all soldiers, commanders who hold the front in these areas, repel attacks and inflict notable losses on the enemy in response to the hell that has entered Ukraine under the Russian flag.”
A volunteer bringing supplies and evacuating people from the frontline in Bakhmut documented the devastation in a video published Thursday.
"Despite horrible ice-crusted ground, I reached Bakhmut. There is fighting in the streets of the city. The city is in flames, constant explosions. But the city is still under full control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
The entire front line in eastern Ukraine was being shelled, according to the governor of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, which is partly occupied by Russia, adding that five civilians were killed and two were wounded in Ukrainian-controlled areas.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would probably do a deal over Ukraine one day but that Russia's near-total loss of trust in the West would make an eventual agreement much harder to reach.
Putin said Germany and France - which brokered ceasefire agreements in Minsk between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in 2014 and 2015 - had betrayed Russia and were now pumping Ukraine with weapons.
"So it begs the question: how can we make deals? And can we make deals? And where are the guarantees? That is the question."
Putin also said Russia - the world's biggest exporter of energy - might cut its oil production and would refuse to sell oil to any country that imposed what he called the West's "stupid" price cap on Russian oil.