Reuters quoted a senior official in US President Joe Biden's administration as saying that the United States had advised Ukraine to delay launching a major counterattack on Russian forces until it received supplies.

This comes as Kyiv's allies pledged on Friday to provide more military support to it, but they failed to settle divisions over sending combat tanks to it, during a high-level meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also confirmed that the international coalition to help Ukraine is strong, and that dozens of countries want Kyiv to obtain what it needs to defend itself.

He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "damaging his people and his army, which suffers terrible losses every day" in Ukraine.

A senior US official indicated on Friday that Ukraine should not seek to defend the city of Bakhmut - the current center of fighting in the east of the country - at any cost, and focus more on preparing for a major counterattack.

Strategic attack

The American official believed that the priority given to the fighting in Bakhmut is hindering Ukraine in its primary mission of preparing a strategic attack on the Russians in the south of the country during the spring.

He estimated that the longer the fighting in Bakhmut, the stronger the position of Russia, which has greater artillery capabilities and a numerical advantage in terms of fighters.

The official, who asked not to be named, added that Russia's victory in Bakhmut will not change the course of the war, and that the Ukrainian forces can withdraw to easy-to-defend locations.

He believed that easing the focus on the city allows Ukraine to enable a greater number of its military to benefit from the armament and training programs run by the United States, in order to form more highly qualified units and employ them in launching an attack in the south.

He pointed out that weapons that will be used in the upcoming counterattack are currently flowing into Ukraine, including hundreds of armored vehicles this week, which is among the equipment that will be required to form a mobile offensive force.

combat tanks

On the other hand, Kyiv's allies pledged Friday to provide more military support to it, despite their failure to settle the divisions over sending combat tanks to it, during a high-level meeting in Germany.

Speaking to reporters after presiding over the meeting, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that special focus was placed on Ukraine's needs for air defense and armored vehicles, and allies made major pledges to strengthen its armed forces.

"The important new commitments demonstrate the continued determination of our allies and partners to help Kyiv defend itself, because this is not only about Ukraine's security, but about European and global security," he added.

Austin noted that France, Germany and the United Kingdom have announced their intention to send air defense systems to Ukraine, including Patriot missiles.

During the meeting, the United States did not undertake to send "Abrams M1" tanks to Kyiv, while Germany says that it has not yet decided on the delivery of "Leopard 2" tanks to it.

Kyiv had appealed to hand over the German "Leopard 2" tanks, but obtaining them even from the countries that possess them, such as Poland and Finland, requires Berlin's approval.

NATO countries fear that some military supplies to Ukraine will escalate the conflict and turn it into a war with Russia.

Kyiv insists on Leopard 2 tanks, after military experts revealed that they "will be a decisive factor in the course of the battles," according to media reports.

These tanks are distinguished by giving them comprehensive protection for their crew from threats such as improvised explosive devices, mines and anti-tank fire, as well as containing cooling systems in the crew cabin, an additional power generator, and a telephone that allows the crew to communicate externally.

Fierce fights

On the ground, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the control of the town of "Klychevka", located south of Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Wagner militia announced the day before yesterday that it had taken control of the town, which is located 9 km south of Bakhmut.

Al-Jazeera correspondent monitored the situation in Bakhmut, which is witnessing fierce battles between Wagner's forces and the Ukrainian army.

The Al-Jazeera correspondent in Kramatorsk also reported that the city was bombed by long-range Russian missiles.

According to the local authorities' statement, a missile hit a school and kindergarten in the city center, without mentioning any casualties.

For his part, the governor of the Ukrainian province of Donetsk, Pavlo Korlenko, said that the Russian army has expanded its military operations in the southern axes, and is launching wider attacks there.