Russian forces have very likely seized the centre of the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and are threatening a key supply route for Ukrainian forces to the west, British intelligence said.



* Asked to comment on the report, a Ukrainian military command spokesman told Reuters the situation was difficult in Bakhmut and that Russian forces were concentrating all efforts to take the city but were not having "strategic success".

* If confirmed, the British report suggests Ukrainian forces are under severe pressure, two days after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said they would withdraw if at risk of encirclement.

* On Monday, the head of Russia's private Wagner militia had said Ukrainian forces were not abandoning Bakhmut but that, even if they did, he would need more support from the regular Russian military before trying to advance further.

* Donetsk is one of four provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine that Russia is seeking to fully occupy. It declared them annexed last year after failing to seize the capital Kyiv in an attempt to overrun Ukraine early in the war.

* Fighting also rages further south around Avdiivka, a town near the Russian-held regional capital of Donetsk.

* Authorities in Russian-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine said a total of seven civilians were killed in two separate Ukrainian artillery strikes, Russian news agencies reported.

* Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.



* Turkey is concerned about the potential intensification of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the spring, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

* China's Xi Jinping expressed willingness on Thursday to speak to Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, the head of the European Union said, after French President Macron urged Beijing to talk sense to Russia over the war in Ukraine.

* The Kremlin said it had followed what it called "important talks" between Xi, Macron and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, but added that China would not change its position on the Ukraine conflict under external influence.

* A top Ukrainian official ruled out talks with Moscow about territory until it withdraws all troops, pushing back on a colleague who had touted the idea of negotiations to resolve the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula.

* Russia and Turkey agreed during talks in Ankara that obstacles must be lifted to ensure freer Russian fertiliser and grain exports , and enable a UN-brokered deal ensuring Black Sea shipments of Ukrainian grain to be extended beyond next month.



* "Russia has made further gains and has now highly likely advanced into the town centre, and has seized the west bank of the Bakhmutka River. Ukraine’s key 0506 supply route to the west of the town is likely severely threatened." -latest update from British military intelligence (Compiled by Reuters editors)