Civilians flee fierce fighting in Ukraine's Bakhmut

STORY: Ukrainian and Russian troops traded fire in what were once cities and residential neighborhoods of the war-torn eastern regions of Ukraine on Thursday as Kyiv tried to push back occupying forces.

The Ukrainian military said the Russians were focused on an offensive in the Bakhmut sector of the Donetsk region, but their attacks in the Avdiivka and Kupiansk sectors were unsuccessful.

One Ukrainian soldier who said his name was Victor spoke to Reuters:

“We are hearing that their troops are getting transferred from Bakhmut to Soledar. They (the Russian soldiers) aren’t able to rip through the defence, so now they aim for Soledar to get through there.”

Reuters could not independently verify the claim.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meanwhile has urged the West to provide his army with heavy tanks to boost their firepower.

Civilians, aided by a non-governmental organization 'ELEOS Ukraine', scrambled to evacuate people desperate to escape Bakhmut and the destruction visible all around as the fighting is set to intensify for the rest of the winter.

Resident, Lidya Dmytrivna:

“All this noise is unbearable. We get no sleep, and we have no windows left in the apartment. I have all the necessities, but no glass in the windows. All darkness. We covered everything with foil, but it doesn’t help. It’s hard to get up in the morning. No one could have imagined this. Because it is very hard. Tears every day. I'm standing here now and my tears keep falling."

This all comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for a 36-hour ceasefire to mark Orthodox Christmas…

An offer Ukraine rejected until Russia withdraws its invading forces from occupied land.

Ukraine has previously said any Russian call for a ceasefire would be an attempt by Moscow to secure some respite for its troops, which Ukraine is trying to force from territory Russia seized after its invasion last February.