In a video published by his press service, the head of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said that his units had established full control of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin said that the Wagner PMC completely controls the city. Prigozhin made several claims before about completely capturing Bakhmut.
In his address, Prigozhin noted that the "Bakhmut meat grinder" lasted 224 days. According to him, the Ukrainian city was taken under control exclusively by the forces of his private army, without the help, as he stressed, of regular Russian troops. Prigozhin said that " Wagner PMC made it possible for the battered Russian army to recover."
Prigozhin clarified that from May 25, the Wagner PMC will begin to withdraw its units from the city "for rest and rehabilitation." Until that time, defense lines will be established in Bakhmut, and the city will be handed over to regular Russian troops.
At the end of the video message, the head of the Russian mercenaries thanked Generals Sergei Surovikin and Mikhail Mizintsev, who "made it possible to carry out this difficult operation."
"And thanks to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for giving us this opportunity and the high honor to defend our homeland," Prigozhin added.
At the same time, Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Forces, said on the air of the Ukrainian TV today that Ukrainian troops remain in Bakhmut and continue to hold back enemy attacks.
"Bakhmut remains the main, authoritative target for the aggressor. Russia, in addition to the Wagner group, sent there airborne units, motorized rifle units, as well as some special units," Cherevaty said.
According to him, 17 firefights took place in the Bakhmut direction during the day. 92 Russians were killed and 156 wounded. The Ukrainian military destroyed several pieces of Russian equipment, 13 field ammunition depots and shot down five drones in the Bakhmut area.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar also denied Prigozhin's claims that the Wagner mercenaries gained full control of Bakhmut.
"There is heavy fighting in Bakhmut. The situation is critical. At the same time, our troops are holding the line around the Airplane monument. Out defenders currently control certain industrial and infrastructure facilities in the area and the private residential sector," Malyar wrote on Telegram.