Wagner Group claims it seized Bakhmut with help from Russian troops

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Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the Wagner Group has seized Bakhmut with assistance from Russian troops, after a protracted monthslong battle over the eastern Ukrainian city.

“As a result of offensive actions by Wagner assault units, supported by artillery and aviation of the Yug Group of Forces, the liberation of Artyomovsk has been completed,” the ministry said in a post on Telegram, using the Soviet-era name for Bakhmut.

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin had claimed in a video earlier in the day that his private mercenary company had “completely taken” the city.

“Today, at 12 noon, Bakhmut was completely taken,” Prigozhin said, according to Reuters. “We completely took the whole city, from house to house.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Wagner Group and Russian forces on the “completion of the operation to liberate” Bakhmut, according to a statement from the Kremlin reported by Russian state news agency TASS.

However, Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, denied Prigozhin’s claims earlier in the day, telling The Associated Press that it was “not true” and “our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”

Earlier this month, Prigozhin said that his mercenaries would withdraw from the city, claiming that they were “doomed to senseless death” amid a lack of ammunition from Russia’s Defense Ministry.

“By not giving us shells, you are not depriving us of victory, you are depriving the people of Russia of victory,” he said at the time.

Prigozhin reversed course days later, saying the Wagner Group had been “promised as much ammunition and armament as we need to keep going.”

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