Kyiv said its forces were "managing to stabilise" the situation around Bakhmut, a now-destroyed city in eastern Ukraine that has seen the longest battle of the Russian invasion.

Bakhmut -- which once had an estimated population of around 70,000 people -- has been virtually emptied of civilians over months of fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

The frontline situation is "the toughest in the Bakhmut direction", the head of Ukraine's armed forces Valery Zaluzhny said late Friday after a phone call with Britain's Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

"Due to the tremendous efforts of the Defence Forces, we are managing to stabilise the situation," Zaluzhny said on Facebook. 

Russian forces have been posting painstakingly incremental gains around the city, whose symbolic importance surpassed any military significance as the battle dragged on.

According to the British defence ministry's latest intelligence update on Saturday, Russia's assault on Bakhmut "has largely stalled".

"This is likely primarily a result of extreme attrition of the Russian forces," the British statement read, adding that in the battle Ukraine had also "suffered heavy casualties".

Senior Ukrainian military commander Oleksandr Syrsky said Thursday that a counter-attack could be launched soon against "exhausted" Russian forces near Bakhmut.

Syrsky's statement came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he had visited Ukrainian forces near the Bakhmut frontline Wednesday.

The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Monday that his forces were in control of around 70 percent of the city.

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Since the war began, President Zelensky has pleaded with the U.S. and NATO alliances to provide air support. He's begged the U.S. and the whole of Europe for fighter jets and other aircraft because he knows wars are no longer won with boots on the ground. Wars are won in air. The most powerful military in the world is the USA and it's not because of their number of soldiers. It's because of their number of aircraft i.e. Total Military Aircraft:
#1 USA – 13,233,
#2 Russia – 4,144,
#3 China – 3,260,
#4 India – 2,119,
#5 South Korea – 1,581.
One can see, the U.S. military is the most powerful of them all, because of their air superiority. If Ukraine is going to win this war, they too need air superiority. It's up to the USA and all other supporting nations to make that happen. They need hundreds of fighter jets and attack helicopters to end this war quickly. STOP prolonging the war. Give Ukraine what they need, air superiority.