Russia claims control over key district in Chasiv Yar amid intense Ukraine fighting

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Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that its forces had taken control of a district in the key Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, while Ukraine said the area was engulfed by intense fighting.

Chasiv Yar stands on high ground 20 km (12 miles) to the west of Bakhmut, a town Russian forces seized a year ago. It had been levelled by months of fierce battles.

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Both sides see Chasiv Yar as a strategic site which Russia could use as a potential staging point to move westward through Donetsk region toward the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

“Units of the South group of troops, as a result of dynamic actions, have taken full control of the “Novyi” district of the settlement of Chasiv Yar ... and improved their positions in forward sectors,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Novyi district lies to the west of Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal which lies on the east side of the town.

On Wednesday, Ivan Petrechak, press officer for Ukraihe’s 24th brigade defending the town, told Suspilne public television the situation was “critically difficult”, with fighting around the canal.

“We see no letup in the amount of shelling. The enemy is using artillery, multiple rocket systems,” Petrechak said. “The situation remains tense. But the 24th brigade is holding its positions.”

Russian forces, he said, were sticking to known tactics -- moving infantry into forested areas and then dispersing to attack Ukrainian positions in small groups. Advancing soldiers were covered by shelling and attack drones.”

The popular Ukrainian war blog DeepState reported earlier in the day that Russian forces had “completely erased” Novyi district. A Ukrainian military official said last week that Russian troops had been pushed out of an area by the canal.

Russian forces have been slowly pushing their way across parts of eastern Ukraine since the capture of the key city of Avdiivka in February.

Ukrainian forces are now receiving Western weaponry and ammunition after assistance from Washington was halted for months by disputes in the U.S. Congress.

The United States announced its latest $2.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine this week, including artillery rounds, interceptor missiles and anti-tank weapons.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, writing on X, thanked the United States for the package on Wednesday and said it included funds to buy Patriot and NASAMS missile systems “which will strengthen our soldiers and boost our battlefield capacities”.

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