The head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner said today that troops had taken “the entire western part” of the city of Bakhmut, the center of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
“Wagner’s units took over the entire western part of Bakhmut, everything east of the Bakhmutka River,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an audio message.
In recent days, pressure has increased considerably on Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut, facing Russian advances and the threat of encirclement.
The latest report, published on Tuesday by the Institute for War Studies, a US panel, states that Kremlin troops had likely captured the western part of the city after a “controlled withdrawal” of Ukrainian forces.
However, in an interview with the US television channel CNN, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured that the troops were determined to defend the city.
After Bakhmut, the Russians “could go further, (…) to Kramatorsk, to Sloviansk, the way would be clear (…) to other cities in Ukraine”, he explained.
Although Bakhmut’s strategic value is disputed, the city gained symbolic and tactical importance, given the heavy losses suffered by both parties. It is the longest and deadliest battle since the Russian offensive began in February 2022.