Bakhmut Is Taken, Says Russia as Ukraine Denies
Russia has declared victory in the fight for the most embattled city so far in the Russo-Ukraine war – Bakhmut.
But Ukraine has denied the claim and called it fake news.
The battle for Bakhmut, also known as Artyomovsk, spans several months. It’s a key city in the Donetsk Oblast, one of the four regions of Ukraine annexed by Russia last year. Over the winter months, the military battle over the city slowed down but regained steam over the past few weeks.
Last week, the Ukrainian government admitted that Russia controls 65 percent of Bakhmut while Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group claimed control of 70 percent of the city.
On Sunday night, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin released a video showing him hoisting the Russian flag over Bakhmut’s city hall as he declared that Bakhmut has “legally” been taken.
The Russian flag raised over Bakhmut’s city hall was inscribed with the words “Good memory to Vladlen Tatarsky” as a tribute to Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who was killed in a bomb blast in a St. Petersburg café on Saturday. A young woman named Darya Trepova, who carried out the bombing, has been arrested and has confessed to the crime that Moscow has called a terrorist attack.
The Wagner declaration of victory in Bakhmut made news worldwide as the video of the Russian flag raised over the city hall went viral. But Ukraine has rejected the claim and insists that “fierce fighting” continues in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian Presidential Office head Andrii Yermak has urged people not to fall for “fakes inventing a victory” and stay assured that “Bakhmut is Ukraine.”
Reporting on Yermak’s remarks, Ukrainian news source The Kyiv Independent wrote:
Yermak didn’t specify what “fakes” he meant, but he was likely referring to the April 2 statement of Wagner Group’s founder and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Some supporters of Ukraine became upset with the news of Bakhmut’s alleged capture by Russia and called out media channels for even reporting the news. One Twitter user snapped at the BBC for reporting on the Wagner chief’s claim.
As of Monday, the Ukrainian side continues to dispute the claim that Bakhmuit has been captured by Russia. Reuters cited Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, as:
“Bakhmut is Ukrainian, and they have not captured anything and are very far from doing that.”