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20 Jan, 2023 15:03

Russian military confirms capture of key Donbass settlement

Taking the village of Klescheevka paves way to Kiev’s stronghold of Artyomovsk
Russian military confirms capture of key Donbass settlement

The strategic village of Klescheevka in Russia’s Donetsk Region has been freed from Ukrainian forces, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

“The volunteers of assault units with fire support from tactical and army aviation, missile forces and artillery of the Southern Military District have liberated the settlement of Klescheevka,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

A day earlier, the capture of Klescheevka was announced by Evgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner Group private military company. While the settlement itself was under Russian control, intense fighting has been taking place on its outskirts, with “the opponent clinging on to every meter of land,” Prigozhin claimed.

Klescheevka, which was populated by just over 500 people before the conflict, had been heavily fortified by the Ukrainian military. It lies 9km southwest of the city of Artyomovsk, called Bakhmut by Ukraine. The capture of the village is vital to the Russian operation to encircle Artyomovsk, which is a major stronghold and logistics hub for Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk People’s Republic. 

The seizure of Klescheevka follows last week’s taking of the key town of Soledar, some 15km northeast of Artyomovsk, and several other villages in the area, by Russian forces. The Defense Ministry earlier praised “the courageous and selfless actions” of the Wagner Group’s strike teams during the battle for Soledar, but also pointed out that the success was achieved by a “mixed group of forces,” including aviation and artillery units.