Russias Wagner group claim to hold whole eastern part of Bakhmut

Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed his troops have captured “all the eastern part” of the Ukrainian town Bakhmut. Fighting in the town known as the “meat grinder” has raged on for months.

Talking in an audio message on his Telegram page on Wednesday, Prigozhin said: “Wagner units have taken all the eastern part of Bakhmut, all that’s east of the Bakhmutka river.”

For months, Ukrainian troops have been defending the town, which had a pre-war population of 80,000, from waves of Wagner fighters.

The Institute for the Study of War recently said: “Russian forces have likely captured the eastern part of Bakhmut, east of the Bakhmutka River, following a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal from eastern Bakhmut as of March 7.”

But any Russian military advances haven’t come easy with them suffering between 20,000 and 30,000 losses since the start of the battle for Bakhmut last summer, according to Western estimates.

Ukraine has also suffered large losses during the bloodbath. The Russian minister of defence Sergei Shoigu claimed on his Telegram channel Ukraine had lost 11,000 troops in February – although this figure isn’t recognised by Western officials.

The significance of Bakhmut has been hotly contested. President Zelensky deems the defence of Bakhmut to be vital: he told CNN yesterday Russia would have an “open road” to capture other key cities in eastern Ukraine if they take Bakhmut.

He added: “We understand that after Bakhmut they could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk, it would be open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction.”

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