Russian mercenaries control 80% of Bakhmut, claims Wagner Group chief

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Ukrainian officials have denied claims from Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin that Russia controls ‘80%’ of Bakhmut.

On Telegram today, Prigozhin claimed that Moscow was on the brink of seizing Bakhmut, one of the longest-running and most deadly battles in the Ukraine war.

Though Bakhmut isn’t much of a strategic hub, the eastern midsize mining city has become one of the most symbolic in the year-long war.

After 10 months of bloodshed and bombings, Bakhmut is now mostly in ruins but the fight ‘continues’, Prigozhin said today as he showed a map of the area.

‘In Bakhmut, the larger part, more than 80% is now under our control, including the whole administrative centre, factories, warehouses, the administration of the city,’ he said.

He used a red marker pen to highlight the relatively small, mainly residential area of the city that remained to be captured by Russian forces.

‘There,’ Prigozhin said, ‘the war continues.’

Not quite, said Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

‘This statement by Prigozhin is not true,’ Cherevatyi told CNN.

‘I’ve just been in touch with the commander of one of the brigades that are defending the city.

‘I can confidently state that the Ukrainian defence forces control a much larger percentage of the territory of Bakhmut.’

‘Prigozhin needs to show at least some victory in the city, which they have been trying to capture for nine months in a row, so he makes such statements,’ Cherevatyi added. 

Wagner, a private military force with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has sent wave after wave of recruits into Bakhmut to drag out the fight.

Prigozhin said he has handed some Wagner-dominated sections of the city to the Russian military.

‘We handed over the flanks to the Ministry of Defence. Units of the Ministry of Defence, including the airborne troops, have today taken over both the right and left flanks,’ he said.

‘That is why Zaliznyanskoye, Nikolaevka, and other settlements, which were stormed by units of the Wagner PMC in previous months, are in the area of responsibility of the airborne troops and other units of the Ministry of Defence.’

With Kyiv soldiers facing round-the-clock artillery bombardments, Moscow is now using ‘scorched earth’ tactics on Bakhmut, a Ukrainian commander said Monday.

‘The enemy switched to so-called scorched earth tactics from Syria. It is destroying buildings and positions with air strikes and artillery fire,’ the commander of Ukraine’s ground force, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said.

‘The situation is difficult,’ he added, ‘but controllable.’

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