Ukraine’s army says Wagner chief wants to ‘flee’ Bakhmut with ‘tail between his legs’

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Russian Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed he captured the city of Bakhmut and announced pulling his forces out of it after handing over the reins to the Russian army, because he wants to “flee with his tail between his legs”, a Ukrainian army spokesperson said.

Prigozhin announced on Saturday that his forces had successfully captured Bakhmut City and were planning to establish defensive positions and pass control to Russian armed forces by May 25.

The Wagner boss said on Sunday: “We have captured all the territory we promised to capture, right up to the last centimetre… We are handing over our positions to [Russia’s] defense ministry and on the 25th we are leaving the conflict zone.”

However, Kyiv gave a conflicting account disputing the Russian claim. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed on Sunday that Bakhmut was not completely under Russian control. Ukrainian officials said that fighting for the city continued and added that Ukrainian troops were encircling Bakhmut and making advances along the outskirts of the eastern city.

The spokesperson of the eastern group of the Ukrainian armed forces, Serhii Cherevatyi, said on Saturday that the fighting is still ongoing and that Ukrainian troops were in fact making significant gains against Wagner forces: “We have wiped out his [Prigozhin’s] very powerful group. It is close to destruction.”

Cherevatyi stressed that Prigozhin hastily made the claim of seizing control of Bakhmut so that he would be able to leave with the remnants of his depleted forces.

“He is running away with his tail between his legs because he has lost his best personnel. In fact, his Wagner group is essentially destroyed,” said Cherevatyi as cited by the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda.

Fighting in the battle for Bakhmut has raged on for eight months, making it one of the longest and bloodiest battlefronts of Russia’s war on Ukraine with heavy losses on both sides. Wagner mercenaries spearheaded the recent Russian offensive on Bakhmut after Russian troops attempted to take Bakhmut last August and were rebuffed by Ukrainian forces.

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