(Moscow) Russia said on Thursday it was blocking Ukrainian forces in Bakhmout and preventing any reinforcements from entering the city, suggesting that Russian forces are about to take the city, the epicenter of fighting since last summer.

“ The assault groups (of the paramilitary group) Wagner are continuing high-intensity military operations to drive back the enemy from the neighborhoods in the center of Artyomovsk (name given by the Russians to Bakhmout), ”, indicated the Russian Ministry of Defense. in his daily report.

“ The (Russian) airborne troops support the assault groups on the flanks, blocking the sending of Ukrainian army reserves into the city and the possibility of a withdrawal (from Bakhmout) of the enemy units ”, he continued.

In recent days, Ukrainian forces appear to have lost ground in downtown Bakhmut, where several Russian war correspondents have visited recently.

A city of some 70,000 inhabitants before the conflict, the city, now devastated, has been the scene of terrible fighting for months.

Due to the length of the battle and the heavy losses suffered by both sides, Bakhmout has become the symbol of the struggle between Russians and Ukrainians for control of the industrial region of Donbass, Moscow’s stated objective.

In recent months, Russian troops have advanced north and south of Bakhmut, cutting off several Ukrainian supply routes and seizing its eastern part.

In recent days, they seem to be progressing in the center of the city, again fueling speculation about a Ukrainian withdrawal to come.

On Monday, the head of the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, released a video showing him in the center of Bakhmout and in which he claimed that the city was being “liberated”.