Defence ministry says Blahodatne captured with help of aerial support; no immediate comment by Ukraine.

Russia says it has captured a village on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut as it intensifies efforts to surround the front-line city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The village of Blahodatne, which is about five kilometres (three miles) north of Bakhmut, was captured with the help of aerial support, the Russian defence ministry said

There was no immediate response from Ukraine’s government, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the account.

The announcement came three days after the head of Russia’s Wagner Group said the mercenary force had seized Blahodatne in an attack Ukraine said it had repelled.

Capturing Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of about 75,000 people, would be Russia’s first major battleground achievement since it took the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in July.

Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said two civilians, including a boy, were killed in a Russian artillery attack on Bakhmut on Tuesday.