The founder and head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed today that his forces had captured the village of Yakhidne, on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine that Russian forces have been trying to control since the summer.

The capture of Yakhidne further tightens the Russian cordon around Bakhmut, with the village less than two kilometers from the center of this fortress city of disputed strategic importance but which has become a symbol of the battle for control of Donbas province in the east Ukraine.

“At 19:00 on February 25, Wagner’s assault units took full control of the village of Yagidne, north of Bahmut,” Prigozhin said, according to his Telegram press service.

A photo on Telegram shows armed and masked men with a mercenary flag in front of the entrance sign to Yakhidne village.

According to Wagner’s press service, citing the Russian news agency TASS, Ukrainian troops blew up a dam near Bakhmut to slow the advance of Russian forces.

“Indeed, the Ukrainian armed forces blew up the dam,” the press service said, adding that it was a dam on a lake, located just west of Bakhmut.

These claims were not independently verifiable.

Russian forces have been trying to encircle Bakhmut for weeks and have succeeded in cutting off several important supply routes for Ukrainian troops.

Yesterday Friday, Wagner, at the forefront of this battle, reported capturing Berkhifka north of Bakhmut and last week Paraskovivka.

Fierce tensions have erupted in recent weeks between the mercenary group and the Russian military, with Prigozhin accusing the latter of not providing his organization with the ammunition it needs.