In the battles for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a paradoxical frontline situation has developed. While Ukrainian troops continue to advance on the fronts around the city, Russian troops continue to push back Ukrainian defenders inside the city, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram. "Within a few days, our troops have cleared about 20 square kilometers north and south of Bakhmut from the enemy, who in turn is advancing inside Bakhmut and completely destroying the city with his artillery."

With the advance of Ukrainian troops on the flanks of the Russian Armed Forces, the "mousetrap" hinted at by Ukrainian Army Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi could close further for Russian soldiers.

Kyiv: 400,000 Russian troops in Ukraine

According to estimates by Ukrainian military intelligence, around 400,000 Russians are currently deployed in Ukraine. The purely military component consists of around 370,000 soldiers, said intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov on state television in Kiev. In addition, there are about 20,000 members of the Russian Guard, an elite paramilitary unit of the Russian Federation. Private groups provided another almost 7000,<> fighters. The latter include the Wagner mercenary troop under its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The losses suffered by Russian troops so far since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February last year are estimated at just under 200,000 in Kyiv. However, it is not clear from these statistics, which are updated daily, whether this refers only to the dead or also to the wounded. Actual figures on troop levels or casualties are not published by either party to the conflict.

Europeans talk about F-16

Ukraine is one step ahead in its efforts to get modern Western warplanes for its defensive fight against Russia. Britain and the Netherlands want to build an international coalition to help Ukraine procure US F-16 aircraft, a British government spokesman said on Tuesday evening, according to the PA news agency. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that this was also supported by France. He sees a positive development in the efforts to strengthen the Ukrainian Air Force.

The United States, however, has so far refused to send the F-16s requested by Ukraine. This position has been confirmed several times by US representatives. Zelensky and the Ukrainian leadership have been trying for months to obtain modern fighter jets from Western allies. So far, all of Ukraine's partners, first and foremost the United States, have largely held back on this issue.

Britain and Netherlands in favour of fighter jet coalition

A British government spokesman said: "The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak) and Dutch Prime Minister (Mark) Rutte agreed to form an international coalition to provide Ukraine with air combat resources, from training to the procurement of F-16 jets." Initially, there was no confirmation of this from the Dutch government.