Wagner said on its official Telegram channel that its “assault teams have liberated Blahodatne village thereby they have established full control over the settlements adjacent to the city.”
Blahodatne is a small village about 6 kilometers (4 miles) to the north of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Wagner posted photographs and video of their fighters at the entrance to the village. It said that claiming the town would allow it to put more pressure on Ukraine’s troops on the northeast outskirts of Bakhmut, including in the small communities of Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka.
Keep in mind: CNN has not been able to independently verify Wagner’s claim, and is reaching out to the Ukrainian military for comment. Reuters reported Sunday that Ukraine claimed to repel attacks on the village the day prior.
Moscow’s private military also led the capture of Soledar, located a few miles northeast of Bakhmut. After initially denying Wagner’s claim to control the town, Ukraine’s military acknowledged that it had pulled back from the territory earlier this week.
More on Wagner’s assault: The Russian goal appears to be to encircle Bakhmut, rather than to fight in the city itself, which has endured months of brutal battle.
Wagner fighters are reported to have also made gains to the south of the city in the last week. The last remaining routes into the city under Ukrainian control have come under heavier Russian fire in the past week, according to Ukrainian officials and commanders.
The Wagner statement acknowledged that attacking Kyiv’s forces on the high ground to the west of Bakhmut would be more challenging.
In the last few days, a CNN team in the area has observed intense shelling to the north of Bakhmut.