Russia’s Wagner Group claims capture of Bakhmut

Russia’s Wagner Group claimed on Saturday to have fully captured the smashed eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war.
The assault on the largely levelled city was led by troops from the Wagner Group of mercenaries, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said earlier in the day that his troops had finally pushed the Ukrainians out of the last built-up area inside the city.
“As a result of offensive actions by Wagner assault units, supported by artillery and aviation of the Southern Group of Forces, the liberation of Artyomovsk has been completed,” the Russian defence ministry said in a one-line statement.
Kyiv denied Prigozhin’s claim earlier on Saturday, but did not have an immediate response to the defence ministry’s statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated troops on capturing the city and said those who had distinguished themselves would be given awards, Russian media reported.
The claims came after a week in which Ukrainian forces have made their most rapid gains for six months on Bakhmut’s northern and southern flanks.