Wagner claims capture of Ukraine’s Bakhmut ‘in legal sense’

This video grab taken from a video posted on Telegram channel @concordgroup_official on 3 March 2023, shows Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner speaking to the camera from a rooftop at an undisclosed location. Prigozhin declared his fighters have “practically encircled” Bakhmut. (Photo by @concordgroup_official / AFP)

The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company on Monday claimed the capture of the east Ukraine town of Bakhmut “in a legal sense”, saying his units had taken the main city administration building.

“In a legal sense, Bakhmut has been captured. The enemy is concentrated in western areas,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said on his Telegram channel in a post.

In a video accompanying the post, Prigozhin could be seen holding a Russian flag inscribed in honor of Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who was killed in a bomb attack in a cafe in Saint Petersburg on Sunday.

“The commanders of the units that took city hall and the whole center will go and put up this flag,” he said.

“This is the Wagner private military company, these are the guys who took Bakhmut. In a legal sense, it’s ours.”

On 20 March, Prigozhin claimed Wagner units controlled 70 percent of the town.

The fight for Bakhmut is the longest battle of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Russian and Ukrainian forces have invested heavily in the struggle for Bakhmut, even though analysts say the city carries little strategic value.

Ukraine says the battle for the industrial town is key to holding back Russian forces along the entire eastern front.

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