Wagner chief says Bakhmut ‘unlikely’ to fall soon

Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut is “unlikely” to fall to Russian forces in the coming days, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, said early Friday.

Wagner has led the grinding, months-long assault on Bakhmut, which has seen the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

“Bakhmut is unlikely to be completely taken tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Prigozhin wrote on Telegram, reporting heavy fighting in the southwestern suburbs of the city.

“Bakhmut has not yet been taken. There is a suburb called ‘samolet’. It is an impregnable fortress formed from a range of apartment blocks, located in the south-west of Bakhmut. The toughest battles are going on there right now.”

Ukraine said Tuesday that its forces had retaken 20 square kilometres (7.7 square miles) in the north and south of the outskirts of Bakhmut, but said Russian forces were still advancing in the city.

The battle for the city in the Donbas region is the bloodiest and longest since the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022.

Observers doubt the strategic significance of capturing Bakhmut, but it would allow Moscow to claim victory after several humiliating setbacks.

On the ground, the Wagner group is supported by the regular Russian army, although Prigozhin had regularly accused the military leadership of not giving his men enough ammunition to capture the city.

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