While the fighting in Ukraine has slowed in some parts of the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, Ukrainian and Russian troops are fighting within sight of each other.
"It is clear to us that [Russian president] Vladimir Putin needs Bakhmut as a New Year's gift,” Ivan, a commander on the front lines in Bakhmut, said.
“In his New Year's speech, he wants to announce a great victory, and Russian propaganda is doing everything to exaggerate the military importance of Bakhmut, which in reality is small."
The city has been all but emptied of its 70,000 inhabitants.
Meanwhile, Putin is heading to Belarus, sparking fears in Kyiv that he will pressure his ally to join a new offensive against its neighbour.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to this in his nightly address, stating that "protecting the border with both Russia and Belarus is a constant priority. And that preparations are being made for all possible defence scenarios."
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