Putin thanks Wagner’s private army for the ‘liberation’ of Bakhmut | World | News

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The Russian defense ministry and President Vladimir Putin claim that the forces of Wagner’s private army have captured the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut with the help of Russian artillery and air support.

The ministry’s statement on the Telegram channel came about eight hours after a similar claim by the head of Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin. Ukrainian authorities said at the time that fighting for Bakhmut was continuing.

However, a Kremlin statement said: “Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner’s assault units as well as all servicemen in the units of the Russian armed forces who provided them with the necessary support and cover side, when the operation to liberate Artemovsk was completed. (the Soviet-era name for Bakhmut).

READ MORE: Ukraine denies claims Russia has captured Bakhmut but situation ‘urgent’

The eight-month battle for the city in eastern Ukraine is the longest and perhaps the bloodiest of the conflict in Ukraine.

Using a Soviet-era name, the Russian ministry said: “In the tactical direction of Artyomovsk, the assault teams of the private arms company Wagner supported by the artillery and aircraft of the southern battle group have completed the liberation of a city Artyomovsk. “

There were no comments from Ukrainian officials about the latest claim.

In a video posted earlier on Telegram, Wagner’s head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said the city was under full Russian control by midday on Saturday.

He spoke on each side with about half a dozen fighters, with ruins in the background and explosions to be heard in the distance.

After the video surfaced, Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told The Associated Press that Mr. Prigozhin’s claim is “not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.

In a statement on Facebook, the General Staff of Ukraine said “heavy battles for the city of Bakhmut will not stop.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, who is an adviser to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, said that “this is not the first time that Prigozhin has said ‘we took everything and we have the upper hand’.”

He suggested that Wagner’s statement was intended to distract attention from Mr. Zelensky’s recent trips abroad, including the G7 summit in Japan.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak pledged that Britain’s support for Ukraine would “never wane”, after meeting Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 summit in Hiroshima.

The Prime Minister said he was pleased that the group of friends had agreed on the importance of providing the Ukrainian president with the advanced military equipment he needs as he pushes for fighter jets. F-16.

“From the delivery of Challenger tanks to long-range missiles and pilot training, the UK’s support for the defense of Ukraine will never wane”, he said.

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