The head of Wagner says Russian fighters near central Bakhmut

© Aris Messinis, AFP

The head of Russian paramilitary group Wagner said Saturday his fighters were near the centre of Bakhmut as a top Ukrainian commander insisted it was important to "buy time" ahead of an upcoming counteroffensive. Read FRANCE 24's live blog below to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

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10:50pm: Russia suffered more than 500 killed and wounded in one day at Bakhmut

More than 500 Russian troops were killed or wounded in a recent 24-hour period during the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a Ukrainian military spokesman said on Saturday.

Pro-Moscow forces have been fighting for months to take Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region. Both sides admit to significant losses and the exact numbers are difficult to verify.

Serhiy Cherevaty, a military spokesperson for forces in the east, said the Russians had launched 16 attacks over a 24-hour period, with 23 clashes taking place in Bakhmut.

"Over the course of the fighting, 221 enemies were killed and 314 sustained injuries of various degrees," he told the national parliament's television channel.

9:10pm: Russian advance in Bakhmut could come with heavy losses, says UK Defense Ministry

Russian forces have made progress in their campaign to capture the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the focus of the war's longest ground battle, but their assault will be difficult to sustain without more significant personnel losses, British military officials said Saturday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

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