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Ukraine denies Russia controls 80% of Bakhmut

13.04.2023 09:45
Ukrainian officials have dismissed claims by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group that it had seized over 80 percent of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine's Eastern Military Command, rejected the Wagner Group’s claim in comments to the Reuters news agency on Wednesday. 

Wagner’s financier Yevgheny Prigozhin said on Tuesday that his forces controlled most of Bakhmut, “more than 80 percent,” including the whole administrative centre, factories, warehouses and municipality buildings, according to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Cherevatyi said this was “untrue,” Reuters reported. 

Russia 'needs to show at least some kind of victory' in Bakhmut

The Ukrainian official stated: "I was just in touch with the commander of one of the brigades holding the defence of the city. And I can confidently say that Ukrainian defensive forces control a considerably larger percentage of Bakhmut's area." 

Cherevatyi added: "Prigozhin needs to show at least some kind of victory in the city, which they have been trying to capture for nine months ... and that's why he's making such statements."

Prigozhin has made a number of premature announcements in connection with the Wagner Group's position in Bakhmut, according to Reuters.

Battle for Bakhmut

After abandoning its offensive on Kyiv last year, the Russian army made Bakhmut the focus of its bid to advance through eastern Ukraine, news outlets have reported.

However, Russia’s advances have been largely incremental, with Ukrainian forces hanging on for months in Bakhmut, according to the Reuters news agency.

The city has seen the bloodiest fighting of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, with thousands of soldiers killed in what has become known as the “meat-grinder,” Reuters reported.  

Last month, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that if Bakhmut fell to Russian forces, Vladimir Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran.”

He said in an interview with the AP news agency at the time that if Putin "feels some blood — smells that we're weak — he will push, push, push."

Thursday is day 414 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: PAP, Reuters, The Guardian, AP