Russian forces have been waging a monthslong battle in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine.
The fighting has reduced the city to rubble and claimed thousands of lives.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to confirm at the G7 summit that Ukraine is longer in control of Bakhmut.
Ukraine is no longer in control of the city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to confirm on Sunday, marking a significant turning point in the deadly, more than 8-months-long battle that has reduced the city to rubble and claimed thousands of lives.
During a meeting with President Joe Biden on Sunday at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Zelenskyy told reporters that he believes Ukraine has lost control of the city. His statement came hours after Russia’s defense ministry backed claims by the head of the Wagner paramilitary group that Russia has seized the city.
“I think no,” Zelenskyy said. “But you have to understand that there is nothing. … For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts.”
Since August, Russia has waged a bloody battle in the eastern Ukrainian city and, for months, Ukraine’s resolute determination to stay and defend Bakhmut appeared to be paying off, as the leader of Russia’s for-hire military group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, appeared to consider pulling his troops out of the city.
Experts told Insider that, although the battle has been costly for both sides, Ukraine was right to stay and defend the city, denying Russia a symbolic and tactical victory.
Ukraine “tied up a lot of Russian troops in Bakhmut, making it impossible to deploy them to other battle zones” in the wider Donbas region, Rajan Menon, a nonresident scholar in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank, previously told Insider.
Earlier on Saturday, Prigozhin claimed that Wagner had taken the city. However, according to CNN, in a Telegram post shared shortly after Prigozhin’s, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that though the situation was “critical” the battle was ongoing.
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