The head of the Russian private army Wagner claimed Saturday that his forces have taken control of the city of Bakhmut after the longest and most grinding battle of the Russia-Ukraine war, but Ukrainian defense officials denied it.
In a video posted on Telegram, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin said the city came under complete Russian control at about midday Saturday. He spoke flanked by about half a dozen fighters, with ruined buildings in the background and explosions heard in the distance.
However, after the video appeared, Ukrainian deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said heavy fighting was continuing.
“The situation is critical,” she said. “As of now, our defenders, control certain industrial and infrastructure facilities in this area.”
Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told The Associated Press that Prigozhin’s claim “is not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”
Fighting has raged around Bakhmut for more than 200 days.