The Russian army said Wednesday it seized two east Ukrainian settlements near the embattled town of Bakhmut that Moscow has been trying to capture since this summer.
“In the Donetsk area, after offensive actions, Russian troops fully liberated the settlements of Bilogorivka and Pershe Travnya,” the Russian army said in its daily briefing.
Bilogorivka is 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Bakhmut.
Pershe Travnya — Ozarianyvka in Ukrainian — is 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the south.
The small gains come as Russian armed forces, desperate for a win after retreating from Kherson and Kharkiv, have thrown all their might into the battle for Bakhmut.
Once known for its vineyards and cavernous salt mines, Bakhmut has been dubbed “the meat grinder” due to the brutal trench warfare, artillery duels, and frontal assaults around the city.
Russian mercenaries, prison conscripts, and newly mobilized troops are believed to be fighting for Moscow in the area.
The Ukrainian presidency said Wednesday that gas, electricity, and communications were cut off in the city due to shelling.
The Institute for the Study of War said, “Russian forces made marginal gains around Bakhmut on November 29, but Russian forces remain unlikely to have advanced at the tempo that Russian sources claimed.”