Wagner CEO Claims Capture of Bachmut, Ukrainian Officials Refute
Jewgeni Prigoschin, the head of Russian mercenary group Wagner, claims to have taken the heavily contested Ukrainian city of Bachmut. In a video shared on Telegram, Prigoschin said that the city was under Russian control since Saturday midday, with a Russian flag in hand and surrounded by fighters.
However, Ukrainian officials immediately denied Prigoschin’s statement. The deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, stated that heavy fighting was ongoing and that “the situation is critical. Currently, our defenders control specific industrial and infrastructure facilities in the area.” The spokesperson for the Eastern Military Command also dismissed Prigoschin’s claims, stating that “our troops are fighting in Bachmut.”
Last, the Ukrainian army recently made progress near Bachmut, with the US-based Institute for the Study of War reporting that advances by Ukrainian troops south and north of the city had likely eliminated the risk of Ukrainian troops being trapped.
Prigoschin Plans to Give Control of the City to Russian Army
In the video, Prigoschin even declared that his Wagner fighters plan to search the city until May 25th and build defensive positions before handing over control to the Russian army.
Prigoschin is currently in open conflict with the Russian military hierarchy, stating, “We have not only fought with the Ukrainian army but also with the Russian bureaucracy, which has put obstacles in our way.”
Tens of Thousands likely killed
The battle for Bachmut has been raging for over 200 days, with the city almost entirely destroyed. The conflict is widely considered the deadliest in the ongoing war in Ukraine, though official figures on losses are unavailable.
US officials reportedly estimated that around 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Bachmut alone since December, with no known statistics for Ukrainian losses.