Putin congratulates Russia troops, Wagner for ‘capturing Bakhmut’

Russia has claimed to have fully captured Ukraine’s Bakhmut, with President Vladimir Putin congratulating his troops and the mercenary Wagner Group for taking the largely levelled eastern city.

The Russian announcement on Saturday came hours after Kyiv said the battle was still continuing while admitting the situation was “critical”.

Bakhmut, a salt-mining town that once had a population of 70,000 people, has been the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle in Russia’s 15-month war in Ukraine.

The fall of Bakhmut, where both Russia and Ukraine are believed to have suffered huge losses, would represent Moscow’s first big victory in the conflict in more than 10 months.

“As a result of offensive actions of the Wagner assault units, with the support of artillery and aviation of the ‘Southern’ unit, the liberation of the city of Artemovsk was completed,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement, using the Soviet-era name of Bakhmut.

“Vladimir Putin congratulated the assault units of Wagner as well as all servicemen of units of the Russian armed forces who provided them with the necessary support and flank cover, on the completion of the operation to liberate” the city, the TASS state news agency quoted a Kremlin statement as saying.

The Russian president said those who had distinguished themselves would be given awards, the news agency added.

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Wagner’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin earlier claimed the city had fallen to his mercenaries in a video posted on Telegram, in which fighters held Russian flags against a backdrop of ruins.

Source: Aljazeera.com


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