Russia’s Wagner group claims management of Bakhmut, however Kyiv says combating continues – POLITICO

Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group claimed on Saturday to have gained management of Bakhmut, the jap Ukrainian metropolis that has seen the fiercest battles just lately in Moscow’s warfare on Ukraine, however Kyiv disputed the assertion and mentioned heavy combating continued there.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s chief, mentioned in a video posted on Telegram that Bakhmut got here beneath full Russian management round noon Saturday, in line with media experiences.

“Right now, at 12 midday, Bakhmut was utterly taken,” Prigozhin mentioned within the video. “We utterly took the entire metropolis, from home to deal with.”

Ukrainian officers denied that Wagner had established full management in Bakhmut, however known as the state of affairs within the metropolis important. Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s jap command, advised the Related Press that Prigozhin’s declare “just isn’t true.” Ukrainian “items are combating in Bakhmut,” he added.

Ukrainian Deputy Protection Minister Hanna Maliar mentioned heavy combating was persevering with within the metropolis. “The state of affairs is important,” she mentioned. “As of now, our defenders, management sure industrial and infrastructure services on this space.”

The developments in jap Ukraine got here as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Japan on Saturday for talks with the leaders of the world’s strongest democracies geared toward shoring up assist for Ukraine’s protection towards Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 15-month invasion of the nation. Bolstering worldwide assist is a key precedence as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated main counteroffensive to retake territory seized by Russia.

The British Ministry of Protection mentioned on Saturday that Moscow gave the impression to be specializing in the battle round Bakhmut, the place combating has raged for greater than eight months. “Within the final 4 days, Russia has extremely seemingly redeployed as much as a number of battalions to strengthen the Bakhmut sector,” the ministry mentioned.

“This follows Ukrainian tactical beneficial properties on the flanks of the contested Donetsk Oblast city by mid-Could and publicly aired doubts concerning the dedication of Wagner Group forces to proceed combating within the sector,” the ministry mentioned. “The redeployment represents a notable dedication by the Russian command,” it added.

“Russia’s management seemingly proceed to see capturing Bakhmut as the important thing instant warfare intention which might permit them to say some extent of success within the battle,” the British ministry mentioned.

Prigozhin mentioned his forces would pull out of Bakhmut in 5 days and hand the ruins of town over to the common Russian army, Reuters reported.

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