Donetsk, Feb 1 — DAN. Russian forces are tightening the grip on Artyomovsk; the town is in operational encirclement, a military and political expert said on Wednesday.

“Artyomovsk is in operational encirclement; our forces are tightening the encirclement, ” Yan Gagin, an aide to the acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Russia 24 news channel. “Fighting is ongoing for control over the Chasov Yar — Avdeyevka road, the only supply line to the Ukrainian group in Artyomovsk.”

Earlier, DPR Acting Head Denis Pushilin said that Russian forces were making gains in Artyomovsk residential areas. 

Artyomovsk is a large district center and a fortified area of the Ukrainian army north of Gorlovka. It has been occupied by Ukrainian forces since 2014. The prewar Artyomovsk had machine building, metallurgical and construction companies. The Artyomovsk Champagne Wines Factory is one of the largest in Eastern Europe.

Fierce fighting for the town has continued for several months. Western military experts and politicians said Ukrainian army manpower losses run into thousands.*jk