Ukraine: Wagner boss announces full capture of Bakhmout by Russians

Ukraine: Wagner boss announces full Russian capture of Bakhmout


The boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigojine, on Saturday claimed the complete capture by his men of the city of Bakhmout, the epicenter of fighting in eastern Ukraine that has been going on since summer last. 

“On May 20, 2023, today, at noon, Bakhmout was taken in its entirety,” Mr. Prigozhin announced in a video broadcast by his press service on Telegram, where he stands alongside armed men in front of buildings in ruins.

“The operation to take Bakhmout lasted 224 days […] There was only Wagner here,” added Mr. Prigojine, who is in conflict open with the Russian military hierarchy.

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The battle for Bakhmout, a devastated city whose strategic importance is disputed, is the longest and deadliest of the conflict. Both sides have suffered heavy losses there while most of the fighting has been concentrated there for months.

Ukraine claimed this week to have retaken more than 20 square kilometers from Russian forces to the north and south of the city, while acknowledging an advance by Wagner's fighters within the city itself, where only a small pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the west.

The flanks where the Ukrainians say they have advanced near Bakhmout are held by regular Russian army troops, and Yevgeny Prigozhin has multiplied criticism of them, accusing them of fleeing their positions or even the general staff of not delivering enough ammunition to their men.

“We fought not only with the Ukrainian army in Bakhmout, but also with the Russian bureaucracy which has put a spoke in our wheels,” Mr. Prigojine launched on Saturday.

He once again strongly criticized Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Head of State -major, Valéri Gerassimov.

If confirmed, the capture of Bakhmout would allow Moscow to post a victory after several humiliating reverses.