Who takes advantage of Bakhmoutthe epicenter of the fighting in eastern Ukraine ? The situation was confused this Friday, with contradictory statements between kyiv, the boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner and Moscow.
In the afternoon, Evgueni Prigojine, Wagner’s leader, accused the Russian regular troops of “fleeing” their positions near Bakhmout, believing that the defenses “are collapsing”. “There was quite simply an escape from the units of the Ministry of Defense on the flanks” of the area, which have recently been held by regular units of the Russian army, he said in a video broadcast by his press service on Telegram.
According to him, Ukrainian forces regained control of a tank north of this city at the epicenter of the fighting in eastern Ukraine and took up positions on tactical heights overlooking it. He also claimed that soldiers from kyiv had recovered the road to Chiv Iar, further west, which had been blocked by the Russian military for several weeks. These statements could not be independently verified.
kyiv speaks of a 2 km progression
Earlier in the day, Ukraine claimed to have taken back up to two kilometers from the Russians around Bakhmout. “The enemy suffered significant human losses. Our defense forces have advanced two kilometers near Bakhmout,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar said in a statement posted on social media. “We haven’t lost any position in Bakhmout this week,” she added.
The statements come after another senior Ukrainian military official said on Wednesday that Russian forces had retreated from some areas near Bakhmout following counterattacks by Kyiv forces.
Russia denies any breakthrough
But Russia on Thursday evening denied any breakthrough of its defenses by Ukrainian forces. “The statements broadcast by individual Telegram channels on defense breakthroughs which allegedly took place in various parts of the line of contact do not correspond to reality,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The latter even claimed to have repelled 26 Ukrainian attacks on a 95 km long front in the Soledar sector, north of Bakhmout. “No breakthrough of the defense of Russian forces has been allowed,” he insisted.
The Russian ministry nevertheless reported on Friday a redeployment of units north of Bakhmout, in the area of the “Berkhivske reservoir”, to “strengthen the sustainability of the defense”, a statement interpreted by observers as an admission back.
Lies, responds Wagner
“Attempts by the Ministry of Defense in the information field to water down the situation are leading and will lead to a global tragedy for Russia,” Prigozhin said on Friday. “We must immediately stop lying,” he said.
According to him, further advances by the Ukrainian army in this direction would allow it to encircle Wagner’s men in Bakhmout, which is currently more than 90% in Russian hands. “The capture of Bakhmout will bring nothing to Russia because the flanks are crumbling and the front is collapsing”, was still alarmed the boss of Wagner.
In open conflict with the Russian military hierarchy, Yevgueni Prigojine once again ured not to receive enough ammunition for his menwhile according to him there are only about twenty buildings left under Ukrainian control inside Bakhmout.