A Ukrainian soldier has told CNN of the "difficult" attempts to defend the few remaining routes into the city of Bakhmut, as the grinding battle for control of the eastern Donetsk region intensifies.
More than 25 settlements were shelled in eastern Ukraine Tuesday along what the Ukrainian military calls the "Bakhmut axis," including in the city and a number of nearby villages.
One of the villages -- Paraskoviivka -- is immediately to the north of Bakhmut and adjacent to the village of Krasna Hora. Fighters of the Russian private military group Wagner occupy parts of Krasna Hora, according to geolocated video.
The Ukrainian military on Monday disputed Russia's claim that it had taken control of Krasna Hora.
One Ukrainian soldier stationed in the area said that the defense of Paraskoviivka is ongoing -- and was essential to prevent a further advance westwards by Russian forces. He described the situation in the village as "difficult."
"Both we and the enemy understand the importance of this settlement," he said.
He dismissed reports on pro-Russian social media channels that 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded as "nonsense" but said the situation in the city was "very difficult, everyone understands this."
CNN has spoken to the soldier several times in recent weeks.
The Ukrainians' defense of Paraskoviivka is intended to protect one of the last remaining routes into Bakhmut, as most of the main roads into the city are either controlled by Russian troops or under their fire control.
Some of the routes into the city are dirt roads, which may become impassable as the weather warms, and frozen ground turns to mud.