On Monday, Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group claimed it had captured the city hall in Ukraine’s eastern town of Bakhmut, giving it “legal” control; however, Kyiv said its forces still held the town.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner, shared a video on his Telegram account showing him holding a Russian flag, which he said his forces would plant on Bakhmut’s municipal hall.
“This is the Wagner private military company; these are the guys who took Bakhmut. In a legal sense, it is ours,” Prigozhin said.
On March 20, Prigozhin claimed Wagner groups controlled 70% of the town.
Following the release of Prigozhin’s video, Ukrainian military officials claimed that while enemy forces had attempted to seize the town, their forces had “repelled more than 20 enemy attacks”.
Earlier on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ukrainian troops for defending the city, much of which is now in ruins.
“I am grateful to our warriors who are fighting near Avdiivka, Maryinka, near Bakhmut… Especially Bakhmut! It is especially hot there today!” Zelensky said on Telegram.
Wagner has been backing Russian forces in the battle for Bakhmut, while Ukraine has warned that the town’s fall will result in losing vast swaths of its territory.