As fighting continues in the streets of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, Kiev is racing to evacuate residents from the city as Russian troops advance.

While it is almost surrounded by Kremlin forces, the deputy mayor says Russia does not have control over the city.

But despite vowing to defend “fortress Bakhmut” as long as possible, officials warned earlier this week that the situation was dire.

For months, the city has been a key target of Moscow’s offensive in the east, with large forces from the private Wagner group joining Russian troops in battle.

The official said Russian artillery has bombarded the last roads out of the city, hoping to complete its encirclement.

Capturing Bakhmut would not only give Russia a rare battlefield victory after months of setbacks, but could also sever Ukraine’s supply lines and allow Moscow’s forces to advance to other Ukrainian strongholds in the eastern region.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has inspected a forward command post in the southern Donetsk zone, without specifying the exact location, proximity to the front line or the date of the visit.