Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine said Monday they had seized a village near the key city of Bakhmut that Moscow has been trying to capture for months.
The village of Bakhmutske in “the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic was liberated by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” on Monday, read a statement from separatist authorities on Telegram.
AFP could not independently verify these claims.
The village lies northeast of Bakhmut, a wine-making and salt-mining city that used to have a population of 70,000 people and is now an epicenter of fighting.
The village is just outside the city of Soledar, also the scene of heavy fighting.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address Sunday that the area between these two cities is “one of the bloodiest places on the front.”
Update from Bakhmut 8 January pic.twitter.com/isbZyclJMr
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) January 8, 2023
In September, Moscow claimed to have annexed Donetsk and three other Ukrainian regions following referendums not recognized by Kyiv and the West.