© Reuters. A Ukrainian serviceman of the 28th Independent Mechanised Brigade sits inside 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer, near the frontline town of Bakhmut, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Donetsk region, Ukraine February 25, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djuri
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s military said on Sunday that Russia conducted unsuccessful offensives near Yahidne over the past day, after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed to have captured the village in eastern Ukraine near the focus on intense fighting.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in a morning update that Russia keeps concentrating its offensive efforts along the entire Bakhmut front line, were Yahidne is located.
The months-long struggle for Bakhmut, where only about 5,000 of 70,000 residents remain, has seen some of the bloodiest attritional fighting of Russia’s year-old invasion.
Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday his forces had captured Yahidne. On Friday, he had claimed control of Berkhivka, an adjacent village on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
But the Ukrainian bulletin said attacks were continuing, citing “unsuccessful offensives” near six settlements, including Yahidne and Berkhivka, in the Donetsk region, which Moscow claims to have annexed.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports of either side.
Ukraine’s Sunday bulletin said Russian forces had shelled the areas of 22 settlements along that part of the front line in Donetsk over the past day, while Ukraine had repelled 71 in Donetsk and elsewhere along the frontline.
The fierce battles along the front lines in Ukraine’s south and east, especially near Bakhmut, now consist of crawling attempts by each side to move the line, sometimes just a few metres at a time.
Russia has made progress towards encircling Bakhmut but failed to capture it in time to deliver a victory for President Vladimir Putin to announce on Friday’s anniversary of his invasion.