Zelensky says Bakhmut still in Ukraine’s control despite Russia’s claims
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has earlier congratulated the Wagner group and the regular army with the downfall of Bakhmut
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday denied Russia’s claims that the eastern town of Bakmut has been captured by the Wagner group of mercenaries.
Answering press questions on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan, the president appeared to confirm the downfall of the town saying “there was nothing left” and that "for today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts." However, his spokesman later clarified Zelensky’s comment in a Facebook post.
"Reporter's question: Russians said they have taken Bakhmut. President's reply: I think no"," Sergiy Nykyforov wrote.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has earlier congratulated the Wagner group and the regular army with the downfall of Bakhmut, which had become the longest and bloodiest battles of the Ukraine war. The capture was announced on Saturday by Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who, however, has claimed to have control over Bakhmut several times before.
Earlier on Friday, Prigozhin accused commanders of Russia's regular forces of abandoning ground north and south of Bakhmut, raising the risk of his troops inside being encircled by the advancing Ukrainian army. While the military significance of the nearly destroyed town remains under question, its loss would have a significant symbolic value for the Ukrainians, who kept defending Bakhmut for nearly 15 months despite heavy losses on both sides.