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Russia, Ukraine Make Conflicting Claims on Control of Donetsk Region Village


A Ukrainian serviceman gets ready to fire with a mortar from a position near Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, Jan. 27, 2023. There were conflicting claims Sunday over who controls the nearby village of Blahodatne.

Russia and Ukraine made conflicting claims Sunday on who controls the territory near Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary military group claimed it took control of the village, while Ukraine’s military said its troops had repelled the attack.

“Units of Ukraine’s Defense Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of ... Blahodatne ... in the Donetsk region,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its daily morning report, referring to fighting on Saturday.
Ukraine said its forces also repelled Russian attacks in areas near 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region.

But the Wagner Group, designated by the United States as a transnational criminal organization, said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.

The French news agency reports there was no immediate confirmation from Russia’s defense ministry.

With warfare intensifying in the Donetsk region, the exact battleline has been unclear, especially around the town of Bakhmut, where heavy fighting has been occurring in recent weeks. The Wagner Group has made premature success claims before.

Ukraine has said that Russia has not taken over Bakhmut, but that the situation along the front line there has been growing diffiult. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that it was acute.

Four civilians were killed, one in Bakhmut, and 17 wounded in Russian attacks on the region on Saturday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region said on the Telegram messaging app.

Back to the USSR?

Away from the battlefield, the British defense ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the return of basic military training in Russia’s secondary schools highlights an increasingly militarized atmosphere in Russia.

Participants watch instructors during military training for civilians at the sports and patriotic club "Yaropolk" in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, Russia, Dec. 3, 2022.
Participants watch instructors during military training for civilians at the sports and patriotic club "Yaropolk" in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, Russia, Dec. 3, 2022.

The training for secondary schools becomes mandatory in September. Russia announced similar mandatory training for university students in December.

The return of the military curriculum into Russian schools, the British ministry said, is likely a deliberate “evocation of the Soviet Union,” which had a similar military curriculum for schools.

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, told RFE/RL that Moscow was preparing for a new offensive on February 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

"Now they are preparing for maximum activation ... and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements," Danilov said. "There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say."

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.