Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the city of Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region, is holding its own despite widespread Russian destruction in the area.
"Bakhmut is holding out against all odds," Zelensky said in his address Sunday. "And although most of the city is destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at Russian offensive there."
Reuters reported that Ukrainian officials said they sent reinforcements to Soledar, a small town near Bakhmut, to repel attacks from the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Zelensky said in his address that the situation in Soledar is "extremely hard," as the town faced even more destruction than neighboring Bakhmut.
"There is no such piece of land near these two cities, where the occupier would not have given his life for the crazy ideas of the masters of the Russian regime," he said in the address. "This is one of the bloodiest places on the frontline."
Zelensky said that Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi visited the troops near the two cities to commend them for their resilience and to organize the strengthening of Ukraine's defense, including transferring additional units to the area.
"I thank all our defenders who act in this way, who realize that their personal resilience, their personal strength and effectiveness give resilience, strength and effectiveness to the whole state," he added.
A Ukrainian school dismissed Russia's claims that its strike killed hundreds of Ukrainian troops stationed there, instead saying that the strike only damaged windows and classrooms. The vocational school, which is located in Kramatorsk, was named as a target by Russia, which said that the strikes killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers, according to The Associated Press.
The strike was in retaliation for Ukraine's attack on Makiivka on New Year's Eve, Russian authorities said. That attack, which killed at least 89 Russian soldiers, was one of the deadliest attacks led by Ukraine during the now 11-month war.
The Biden administration announced Friday that it will send a $3.75 billion military assistance package to Ukraine, including artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface to air missiles and ammunition.