Fighting continues in Bakhmut before Wagner’s withdrawal deadline

Fighting continues in Bakhmut after Russia declared complete control of the eastern Ukrainian city.

“The fight for the city of Bakhmut continues. The enemy has carried out airstrikes near Bakhmut and Ivanivske,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on May 22.

“Ukrainian defense forces repelled many enemy attacks near the city of Marinka. In addition, the village of Pobieda in the Donetsk region was also shelled,” the Ukrainian military added.

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Marinka continue to be “the focus of the fighting”. The Ukrainian side estimates that 25 fighting took place around the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka regions on May 22.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on May 20 that Russian forces had taken full control of the city of Bakhmut during a special military operation in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner forces and soldiers of the Russian regular army on gaining full control of Bakhmut.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s private military group Wagner, also confirmed that the force has taken full control of the city of Bakhmut since May 20. 

Boss Wagner said this force will withdraw from Bakhmut from May 25 to June 1. In addition, Wagner’s units established defenses on the western outskirts of the city before handing over control to the Russian army.

Andrey Marochko, retired military leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), said that some Ukrainian units have left Bakhmut and are being redeployed in the direction of Kupyansk and Krasny Liman. According to Marochko, the main goal of the Ukrainian army after the redeployment is to “consolidate Ukrainian armed groups in these directions”.

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin announced that demining operations are underway in the city of Bakhmut. He added that the current priority of Russian forces is to check all the places where Ukrainian civilians may still be in the city of Bakhmut after months of conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the country’s military have so far denied the news that Bakhmut has fallen. Ukraine says its forces continue to advance on Bakhmut’s flanks, although the pace has slowed and Russia is sending more reinforcements.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stressed that Ukrainian forces still control part of the city.

“Through operating on the north-south side of the city and controlling the heights here, we seek to weaken the enemy. We continue to advance, but the pace is slowing,” she said. Maliar said.

Eastern Ukraine Operations Command spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty acknowledged the situation in Bakhmut was “extremely difficult”, but it still controlled “several buildings” and fortifications southwest of the city.

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