News ID: 115228
Publish Date : 20 May 2023 - 22:50

Russian Private Army Claims Control of Bakhmut

KIEV (AP/Sputnik) – The head of the Russian private army Wagner claimed Saturday that his forces have taken control of the city of Bakhmut after the longest and most grinding battle of the Russia-Ukraine war, but Ukrainian defense officials denied it.
In a video posted on Telegram, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin said the city came under complete Russian control at about midday Saturday. He spoke flanked by about half a dozen fighters, with ruined buildings in the background and explosions heard in the distance.
“On May 20, 2023, today, at noon, Artemovsk was entirety taken,” Prigozhin announced in a video posted on Telegram.
According to him, from 25 May Wagner will start withdrawing its units for rest and retraining. The group’s fighters will also create “necessary defensive lines”.
Control over the city will be handed over to the Defense Ministry, Prigozhin explained.
However, after the video appeared, Ukrainian deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said heavy fighting was continuing.
“The situation is critical,” she said. “As of now, our defenders, control certain industrial and infrastructure facilities in this area.”
Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told The Associated Press that Prigozhin’s claim “is not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”
Fighting has raged around Bakhmut for more than 200 days.
On May 19, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukraine lost up to 130 military and mercenaries in the Donetsk direction, and over 70 soldiers in the Artemovsk direction in the past 24 hours.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on May 5 that a bridge near Chasov Yar, which the Ukrainian military had used in attempts to supply soldiers in Artemovsk with ammunition and deploy additional troops, has been destroyed.
Artemovsk is north of the large city of Gorlovka. The city is an important transport hub with many crossroads for Donbass and served as a vital center for supplying Ukrainian troops stationed in the region at the beginning of the military operation launched by Russia in Ukraine over a year ago.