Volodymyr Zelenskiy appeared to confirm the loss of the city of Bakhmut to Russia, when asked if it remained in Kyiv’s control.
The Ukrainian president, attending the G7 summit in Japan, said on Sunday that there was “nothing” left of Bakhmut, and that the city is “in our hearts”.
“I think no,” he said ahead of a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Japan.
“For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts.”
Russia claimed on Saturday to have fully captured the smashed eastern Ukrainian city, which if true would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war.
“It is tragedy,” Zelenskiy said.
The assault on the largely levelled city was led by troops from the Wagner Group of mercenaries, whose leader Yevgeny
Prigozhin said earlier in the day that his troops had finally pushed the Ukrainians out of the last built-up area inside the city, Reuters reported.
Kyiv had previously denied Prigozhin’s claim.
Also, Zelenskiy told G7 leaders in his address that Kyiv’s plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine is “an obvious expression of rationality”.
“We’re united by one more principle – rationality,” he said in the address, which was posted to the president’s website.
“We always act practically protecting our values. And the Ukrainian Peace Formula is an obvious expression of rationality. I thank you for supporting our Formula.”