Russia’s Defense Ministry has said its mercenary Wagner group’s aggressive attacks backed by Russian artillery and air support have led to the complete capture of the strategic city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Yevgeny Pigozhin, head of Wagner Group has said the group’s mercenary fighters along with Russian units have kicked Ukrainian fighters out of the city.
“The operation to capture Bakhmut lasted 224 days,”, Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video posted to Telegram, seeking to claim a final victory in the city.
Following the capture of Bakhmut city to the hands of Russian troops, President Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops and the mercenary Wagner Group for taking the largely leveled eastern city.
Prior to the Russian announcement, the spokesperson of Ukrainian forces said the battle was still continuing while admitting the situation was critical – adding Ukraine forces still controlled parts of the strategic city.
During the past weeks, Yevgeny Prigozhin had said that Wagner Group fighters would withdraw from Bakhmut. However, he then added that Russia would provide the required artillery and resources for the war, so the plan of withdrawing Bakhmut was canceled.
Moscow has thrown huge amounts of manpower, weaponry and attention toward the city but for months failed to break down a stubborn Ukrainian resistance that had outlasted most expectations.
Bakhmut is located in the northeast of the Donetsk region, about 13 miles from the Luhansk region, and has been a target for Russian forces for months. Since last summer the city has been a stone’s throw from the front lines.