Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a visit to the outposts of his country's army near Bakhmout, the Ukrainian presidency announced, coinciding with the announcement of pro-Moscow forces to control 70% of the strategic city in the east of the country.

Washington commented on what it called Russian claims about supplying Kiev with munitions containing depleted uranium, something that sparked controversy and recriminations between Moscow and Ukraine's allies over the past two days.

The Ukrainian presidency said in a statement issued by its press office on Wednesday that Zelensky, during a business trip to the Donetsk region, visited the forward positions of the Ukrainian army in the Bakhmout region.

In its statement, the presidency added that Zelensky listened to reports on the status of field operations and the conduct of offensive actions on the front line. The statement explained that the president spoke with the military, and "thanked them for protecting Ukraine and preserving its sovereignty, especially in the east."

In a video released earlier by his office, Zelenskiy appeared to meet soldiers in a warehouse where he was wearing medals, and stressed that "Russia will lose this war."

Kiev says the battle for the industrial city of Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of 80,<>, is key to pushing back Russian forces along the Eastern Front.

Zelenskiy meets soldiers of his country's army on Wednesday on the front lines of fighting in Pakhmut (Anatolia)

The Ukrainian president visited Ukrainian troops inside Pakhmot late last year, ahead of his trip to the United States, which was his first visit abroad since the Russian offensive began in February 2022.

In the opposite camp, the pro-Russian Donetsk authorities announced that Russian forces had almost completely surrounded Pakhmut and that they now controlled 70 percent of the city.

The pro-Russian official in the Donetsk region, Ian Gagen, said that Russian forces were close to blocking Ukrainian roads leading to the city, adding: "We can say that the city is practically besieged."

U.S. Response

In Washington, the White House responded to what it called Russian allegations about supplying Ukraine with ammunition containing depleted uranium.

"The Russian allegations are untrue and we are not providing Ukraine with ammunition containing depleted uranium," the White House said.

The comment came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that London's handing over to Ukraine of ammunition containing depleted uranium, recently reported by a British official, would represent a "dangerous exacerbation" of the conflict.

British Deputy Defence Secretary Annabelle Goldie said on Monday that the UK planned to supply Ukraine with missiles "containing depleted uranium".

"This munition is very effective in destroying tanks and modern armoured vehicles," she said, explaining that these shells were intended for use with Chalgener tanks, which London also intends to deliver.

The White House also said that "if Russia is concerned that the Ukrainians continue to destroy its tanks, it should get out of their territory."

Other field developments

In other developments on the ground, pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk reported that six civilians were injured by Ukrainian shelling of cities and towns in the province.

The pro-Russian authorities indicated that Ukrainian forces shelled Donetsk yesterday with more than 160 shells, causing material damage to a number of residential buildings and facilities in civilian infrastructure.

The regional administration in the Kiev region also announced that four people were killed and seven wounded in an attack by Russian suicide drones, adding that the attacks caused fires and damaged a number of buildings, and that the attack with suicide marches included civilian facilities in Kiev.

For his part, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office Andriy Yermak said that Russian forces are bombing residential buildings in the area of the island of "Khortytsia", in the city of Zaporizhia.

In turn, the military administration in Zaporizhia confirmed the continuation of the bombardment and the continued danger, calling on the population to be careful, and said that Russian forces continue to intimidate the civilian population, as it put it.

Closure of Sevastopol Bay

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that Sevastopol Bay was closed to traffic after a drone attack on the city on Wednesday.

Russia's Sevastopol governor in Crimea said the Black Sea Fleet had repelled a drone attack that caused no damage or casualties.

Russian media reported that air defenses shot down three Ukrainian drones en route to targeting the Gulf of Sevastopol.

The peninsula authorities announced the activation of air defense systems on Monday evening in the city of Djankoy after one person was injured when drone debris fell on one of its houses.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country's forces had destroyed all Ukrainian marches that attacked the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, during a meeting at the headquarters of the Defense Ministry.