Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine said Thursday they had captured two villages near the industrial city of Bakhmut, posting small gains against Kyiv’s counter-offensive.
“A group of DNR and LNR troops — with fire support from the Russian Armed Forces — liberated Opytine and Ivangrad,” a statement released by separatist authorities said on Telegram, using acronyms for the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.
The villages are located just south of Bakhmut, a wine-making and salt-mining city that used to be populated by some 70,000 people and which Russian forces have been pummelling for weeks to capture.
The reported gains come after weeks in which Ukrainian troops have been clawing back large swathes of territory in the south and east of Ukraine — including Donetsk — controlled by Russian forces for months.
The Ukrainian military said in an update Thursday morning that it had repelled Russian attacks near the villages of Bakhmutske, Ozaryanivka, Ivangrad, Bakhmut, and Maryinka.