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On Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s paramilitary group Wagner, announced that his forces had taken full control of the strategic Ukrainian city of Bakhmut for Russia after months of intense fighting that had turned the city into a ‘meatgrinder.’
Prigozhin took to Wagner’s Telegram channel to announce the Russian victory saying in a video post, “The operation to capture Bakhmut later 224 days.”
“Today at noon, Bakhmut was fully captured,” he added.
The Wagner chief is not the only one to report the fall of Bakhmut with Russian state media also broadcasting that “The key Donbass city of Artyomovsk, known as Bakhmut in Ukraine, has been fully liberated by the Russian forces…”
Prigozhin has claimed that the full capture of the city came when the last Ukrainian defensive forces were defeated in an area of high-rise buildings, however, Western media has been unable to verify the claims, although several mainstream media outlets have reported Wagner’s alleged victory.
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The mainstream media reports also include Ukraine’s denial that Bakhmut has finally fallen, with the AP reporting, “Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told the Associated Press that Prigozhin’s claim ‘is not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.'”
Meanwhile, weeks ago Russia reported that it had taken control of 95-98% of Bakhmut and that gains were continuing to be made. Wagner announced Saturday that it will turn the captured city over to Russian forces by the end of the month, according to Zerohedge.
The New York Times, however, joined much of the Western media by recently reporting that Ukraine was making gains in Bakhmut, publishing the below story Saturday morning, the same day that Wagner claimed victory in the city.
U.S. officials and other Western leaders are expected to downplay the significance of the fall of Bakhmut in the coming days as the Russian and Wagner claims are verified. The defeat has also been a hot topic at the G7 meeting in Japan over the weekend with Biden attempting to downplay the defeat by saying, “There is a discussion about Bakhmut – whether or not it’s been lost or whatever.”
Biden then attempted to make it appear that it was a more difficult battle for the Russians despite the ultimate loss for Ukraine.
“Well, the truth of the matter is the Russians have suffered over 100,000 casualties in Bakhmut. That’s hard to make up. So whether or not there are troops in Bakhmut occupying, there are not many buildings left standing in Bakhmut. It’s a pretty devastated city. But they have been able to move in a direction that they’ve been able to lock down an awful lot of the Russian forces, including the Wagner Group,” Biden concluded.
While it’s unclear what is next for what is left of Bakhmut, it is clear that the fall of the city is considered a ‘win’ for Russia and Wagner and has Western leaders nervous about how the defeat could affect the remainder of the war.
- Russia Attempts To Overwhelm Ukrainian Anti-Air Defenses: Moscow And Kyiv Claim Gains In Bakhmut
- Wagner Claims Moscow Agreed To Provide More Arms After Group Threatened To Leave Bakhmut