Russian forces are continuing their efforts to encircle the eastern city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. The city sits toward the northeast of the Donetsk region, about 13 miles from Luhansk region, and has been a target for Putin's forces for some time, but why is the city so important for Russia?
Since last summer the city has been a stone's throw from the front lines, so its capture would represent a long sought-after success for Moscow's forces -- and bring some limited strategic value.
The city has important road connections to other parts of the Donetsk region; eastwards to the border with Luhansk, northwest to Sloviansk and southwest to Kostiantynivka.
For several weeks, the routes into Bakhmut have gradually come under the control of Russian forces. Rather than drive directly toward the city center, Wagner groups sought to encircle the city in a wide arc from the north. In January, they claimed the nearby town of Soledar, and have since taken a string of villages and hamlets north of Bakhmut.
If the Russians can take the high ground to the west of the city, nearby industrial towns Kostiantynivka and Kramatorsk would be at the mercy of their artillery and even longer range mortars. And it is unclear where exactly Ukrainian forces would fall back to should they retreat from the city.
But the battle for Bakhmut has been costly for the Russians, which will come as some consolation to Kyiv.