Ukraine War: Russia’s Wagner withdraw units from Bakhmut

Russia’s Wagner leader said that his forces had started to withdraw from the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin has vowed to hand over control of the city to the Russian army by June 1, but kyiv says he still controls parts of the city.

He said his forces were ready to return if Russia’s regular army proved unable to handle the situation.

Fighting for the Ukrainian town was the longest and very bloodiest.

Wagner’s mercenaries  led the fighting there for the Russian side, and  Prigozhin said this week that 20,000 of his fighters had died at Bakhmut.  “We will withdraw units from Bakhmut today,”  Prigozhin said in a video streamed on Telegram from the destroyed town.

GIN Verify geotagged the video to an area near a pharmacy in eastern Bakhmut.

It was announced by Prigozhin that the city has been capture on Saturday, He was seen telling his men to leave ammunition for the Russian army. He added that some Wagner fighters will stay behind to help the Russian army.

“When soldiers are in a difficult situation, they  stand up,” he said, before warning the two fighters not to “threaten the soldiers.” Wagner’s boss has repeatedly targeted senior Russian military officials, openly criticizing them  for not supporting his military. Last month, he even threatened to withdraw troops from the city if they did not receive much-needed ammunition.

Despite Wagner’s statement about the handover of Bakhmut, Ukraine did not acknowledge that the city had fallen.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Thursday said her forces still control part of the Litak district, southwest of the city.

“The enemy has replaced Wagner’s units in the suburbs with regular troops. Wagner’s fighters are still present,”  in the city she posted on Telegram.

Analysts say Bakhmut has little strategic value to Moscow, but his capture would be a symbolic victory for Russia after the longest battle of the war in Ukraine to date.

The Wagnerian mercenaries had concentrated their efforts on the city for months, and their relentless and costly tactics of sending out waves of men seemed to have slowly eroded the kyiv’s resistance.

Mr. Prigozhin became a key figure in Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022, leading a private mercenary army.

Prigozhin select many of convicted criminals to his team – no matter how serious their crimes – as long as they agreed to fight for Wagner in Ukraine.

20.000 Wagner fighters who died in Bakhmut were mostly prisoners, Prigozhin said this week.

Earlier this month, the United States said it believed more than 20,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the Battle of Bakhmut and another 80,000 were wounded said the United States, However sources could not independently verify the figures.

Ukraine does not publish figures on  casualties in Bakhmut, but  also suffered heavy casualties. Occupying Bakhmut would bring Russia one step closer to its goal of controlling the entire Donetsk region, one of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine that Russia annexed  last September after the referendums were blocked condemned by many outside Russia as a sham.

However, as Severodonetsk and Lysychansk last summer was been fought hard by Russia, Ukraine quickly regained swathes of territory elsewhere.

Around 70,000 resident lived in Bakhmut before the war, but only a few remained in the devastated town, once  known for its salt and gypsum mines and extensive vineyards.

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