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Kyiv refutes Wagner’s claim of Bakhmut’s capture

Kyiv disputes Russia’s Wagner group’s claim of capturing the strategic city of Bakhmut, describing the situation there as critical while emphasizing continued Ukrainian resistance.

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On Saturday, Russia’s private military company, Wagner, declared its capture of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, following the most prolonged and bloody confrontation of the ongoing war. Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin announced the claim in a video, stating his forces had cleared the Ukrainians from the city and were set to retreat in five days, leaving the city’s ruins to the regular military.

Contrarily, Kyiv refuted these claims. Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi stated that “Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.” Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar confirmed “heavy fighting in Bakhmut” and stressed the critical situation there. She stated that Ukrainian forces maintained control over certain infrastructure facilities and private sectors in the area.

This disputed claim occurs amidst rapid Ukrainian advancements on Bakhmut’s northern and southern flanks over the past week. These developments pose a threat to Wagner’s troops, risking potential encirclement. Ukraine’s strategy in Bakhmut involves drawing Russian forces into the city to inflict high casualties and weaken Moscow’s defensive line in preparation for a significant counteroffensive.

Amidst these military developments, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is gaining international support, recently attending the G7 summit in Japan, where he secured pledges of support, including Washington’s backing to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 warplanes.

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Simultaneously, the battle for Bakhmut unveils a growing discord between the Wagner mercenaries and Russia’s regular military. Prigozhin has increasingly criticized Russia’s military leadership, blaming Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov for unnecessary casualties.

However, despite the symbolic importance of Bakhmut, Prigozhin concedes its limited strategic value, particularly amidst Ukraine’s preparation for a counteroffensive. As the war intensifies, Ukraine stands firm, pushing back against Russian aggression and seeking international support to bolster its resistance.

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