Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that its forces continued to conduct military operations in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, claiming to have killed more than 220 Ukrainian servicemen over the past 24 hours.

“In the Donetsk direction… more than 220 Ukrainian servicemen, an infantry fighting vehicle, 3 armoured fighting vehicles, 7 vehicles, as well as a D-30 howitzer were destroyed during the day,” the defence ministry said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the defence ministry’s claim.

Both sides claim to have inflicted significant losses and the exact numbers are difficult to verify.

Ukraine said on Saturday that more than 500 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in a recent 24-hour period as they battled for control of Bakhmut.

Russian forces and troops from the privately run Wagner group of mercenaries have captured territory in the eastern part of the city and outskirts to the north and south, but have so far failed to encircle it completely.

Moscow says capturing Bakhmut would punch a hole in Ukrainian defences and be a step towards seizing all of the Donbas industrial region, a major target.