Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin (not shown) to the headquarters of the military branches for the Kremlin's so-called "special military operation" against Ukraine at a site that Moscow has not revealed on Dec. 17, 2022. EFE-EPA/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL

Wagner chief claims Bakhmut advances after Russian troop withdrawal

Moscow, May 14 (EFE).- The Wagner paramilitary group is making progress in capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Sunday, after the withdrawal of some Russian troops.

Prigozhin’s press service released an audio message in which he stated that Wagner’s units made progress of 550 meters in various directions in Bakhmut on Saturday.

Prigozhin also noted that at present, there was still 1.78 sq km of territory left to be captured.

He said out of the 48 multi-story buildings in the area, Ukrainian forces still have control over 29 of them.

Prigozhin emphasized that Wagner’s units were continuing their westward advance.

He said artillery and other units from Bakhmut have been redirected to the Berkhivka dam in the northwest to protect flanks during the final push to capture the city.

In another audio message, Prigozhin claimed that the Ukrainian forces did not launch any counter-offensive last night.

Prigozhin said the Russian regular army soldiers who did not abandon their posts on the flanks have now joined forces with Wagner’s fighters to protect the captured positions and contain the Ukrainian forces.

Prigozhin added that some of these soldiers had successfully defended their positions and were fighting with Wagner fighters to repel any counterattacks from the Ukrainian forces.

On Friday, Prigozhin had warned about the challenging situation on the flanks of the Russian troops in Bakhmut.

He noted that Ukrainian forces were making attempts to recapture some of the territories previously taken by the Wagner group.

In his warning, Prigozhin expressed concern about the deteriorating situation on the flanks, stating that they were collapsing and the front was in danger of collapsing as well.

He had also criticized the Russian defense ministry’s attempts to address the situation, warning that their actions could result in a catastrophic outcome for Russia.

Prigozhin appeared in a video, recommending that the military leadership should stop lying about the actual situation in Bakhmut.

He urged the Russian Defense Minister to visit the city to see the reality on the ground for himself.

Despite the challenges, Prigozhin remained confident that the Wagner group would soon gain complete control of the city, where fighting has been ongoing for months. EFE