Russia has claimed to have captured the village of Blahodatne in Donetsk Oblast, implying a successful crossing of a strategic river and a significant step towards the encirclement of the embattled city of Bakhmut.
Photos circulated on social media on Jan. 29 showing Wagner mercenaries in front of a sign reading Blahodatne.
The Wagner Group said on its Telegram that its units had taken control of Blahodatne, Reuters reported. In a message on the morning of Jan 29, the press service of Wagner head Yevgenii Prigozhin said that Wagner troops had reached the southern edge of the village.
In its morning briefing on Jan. 29, the Ukrainian General Staff said earlier they had repelled Russian attacks in Blahodatne, effectively a denial of Russia's claims.
Photo shared by Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram channels allegedly showing Russian troops on the southern edge of Blahodatne in Donetsk Oblast on Jan. 29, 2023.
A small village on the highway between the front-line cities of Bakhmut and Siversk, Blahodatne is located just across the Bakhmutka River from the salt-mining town of Soledar, which Russia completed the capture of in mid-January after a brutal assault that left the town entirely destroyed.
Having taken the village of Klishchiivka south of Bakhmut over the past week, further Russian progress past Soledar puts increasing pressure on Ukrainian communication and supply lines into Bakhmut itself.
Kremlin proxies in Donetsk Oblast claimed on Jan. 27 that Russian forces were inching toward capturing the strategic town of Vuhledar, 100 kilometers further south on the Donetsk Oblast front line. Both Ukraine and independent analysts have refuted these claims, saying that Moscow was “exaggerating” its progress in the area.
The Wagner Group is Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group and was founded by Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch, Putin confidant, and a former convict.
Along with the Russian military, the group has taken part in the battles for Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast. Wagner is known for its human rights abuses all over the world.