The head of the Russian private military firm, Wagner Group, says its fighters have taken control of an eastern part of Bakhmut in Ukraine.
Russian forces aim to capture the entire Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Bakhmut is one of their primary targets. Recruited fighters from the Wagner Group are taking part in attacks on the city.
Wagner's head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on social media on Wednesday that they have taken control of the eastern side of a river that runs through the city.
Ukraine's military said their forces are repelling Russian advance around Bakhmut. The Ukrainian government vows to defend the linchpin city.
But the government revealed on social media that it has decided to evacuate children from Bakhmut to save their lives. It said that parents and other guardians should accompany these children and people in the embattled city cannot refuse the evacuation.
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told local media on Tuesday that less than 4,000 civilians, including 38 children, remain in Bakhmut.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appreciated women's role in support for the invasion of Ukraine in a video message celebrating International Women's Day on Wednesday.
Putin said he "would like to pay tribute to the servicewomen who have chosen the highest mission -- defending the Motherland."
He praised women in combat units, and nurses who risk their lives to save the wounded on the frontline.
Observers say Putin apparently seeks public understanding and unity, as the invasion has been prolonged.