| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Russia’s Prigozhin, Ukraine give varying accounts on fighting near Bakhmut

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group from Russia, claimed on Saturday that his troops had taken Yahidne, a village in eastern Ukraine just north of Bakhmut.

However, according to Ukrainian military reports published a day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, settlements close to the important town were still under Kyiv’s control.

Prigozhin’s allegation, made in a brief audio message, and the general staff report from the Ukrainian military could not be independently verified by Reuters.

“At 1900 on 25th February, storm units of the Wagner private military company secured complete control of the locality of Yagodnoye (Yahidne) to the north of Bakhmut,” Prigozhin said in the audio clip.

A day earlier, he said Wagner had taken control of Berkhivka, an adjacent village on the outskirts of Bakhmut.

The months-long struggle for Bakhmut, where only about 5,000 of 70,000 residents remain, has seen some of the bloodiest attritional fighting of Russia’s invasion.

Wagner units have suffered heavy losses, prompting Prigozhin to complain bitterly that the Russian defense establishment has failed to properly acknowledge their contribution.

This week he even accused the army top brass of treason for failing to supply his men with sufficient ammunition, though he later said the situation had been remedied.

The prolonged siege has prompted Ukrainian analysts to consider openly whether its troops should consider abandoning their defense of the city.

Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst from Ukraine, admitted that Berkhivka had been taken over by Russia in a YouTube presentation on Thursday.

According to the most recent general staff report, Russian soldiers attempted to advance on Berkhivka and other nearby villages, but were unsuccessful.

The report made no mention of Yahidne. However, it claimed that Russian soldiers had fired 18 sites in the region, including villages on Bakhmut’s southern and western approaches.

  • Reuters