KIEV, UKRAINE (AP) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, hours after the Russian Defense Ministry reported that Wagner’s private forces had seized a city in the east with the help of Russian forces, Bakhmut said, “I It’s only in our hearts,” he said. Ukraine.
Speaking alongside U.S. President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Zelensky said Russia had destroyed “everything.” “You have to understand that there is nothing,” he said.
“Today, Bahmut is only in our hearts,” he said. “There is nothing in this place.”
The Russian Ministry’s statement on the Telegram channel came about eight hours after a similar announcement by Wagner representative Evgeny Prigozhin. Ukrainian authorities at the time said the fighting over Bakhmut was continuing.
The eight-month Battle of Bakhmut was the longest and possibly bloodiest battle of the Ukrainian conflict.
Mr. Zelensky’s comments came as Mr. Biden announced an additional $375 million in aid to Ukraine, including additional ammunition, artillery and vehicles.
Mr Zelensky later tweeted, “Thank you for the tremendous financial support from (USA) to (Ukraine).”
Analysts said a Russian victory in Bakhmut was unlikely to turn the tide of the war.
A Washington-based think tank said late Saturday that Russia’s occupation of the last remaining land in Bakhmut was “neither tactically nor operationally significant.” The Institute of War Studies said that the capture of these areas “does not provide operationally important terrain for Russian forces to continue offensive operations” and “defends them from a possible Ukrainian counterattack.” I can’t,” he said.
Using the name of the Soviet-era city, the Russian Ministry said: “On the tactical direction of Artyomovsk, the strike team of the Wagner Private Military Company, supported by the artillery and aviation of the Southern Battle Group, completed the liberation of the city of Artyomovsk.” Stated. ”
Russian state news agency quoted the Kremlin news agency as saying that President Vladimir Putin “congratulates the Wagner strike force and all servicemen of the Russian military units who provided the necessary support and flank protection on the completion of the operation.” Said he said. To liberate Artyomovsk. ”
Wagner chief Evgeny Prigozhin said in a video earlier posted to Telegram that the city fell completely under Russian control around noon on Saturday. Against the backdrop of an abandoned building and distant explosions, he spoke surrounded by about six combatants.
Fighting has continued in and around Bahmut for more than eight months.
Russian forces would still face the massive task of capturing the remaining Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, including some heavily fortified areas.
It is not clear who paid the higher price in the Battle of Bahumut. Neither Russia nor Ukraine have released casualty figures, but losses are believed to be in the thousands.
President Zelensky emphasized the importance of defending Mr. Bakhmut in an interview with the Associated Press in March, urging international support for a deal whose demise may force Russia to compromise unacceptably in Kiev. Said it could be collected.
Analysts said Bakhmut’s downfall would hurt Ukraine and give Russia a tactical advantage, but would not decisive the outcome of the war.
Russian forces still face a major task of capturing the remaining Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, including some heavily fortified areas. Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk make up the Donbass region, the industrial heart of Ukraine, illegally annexed by Russia in September when a separatist uprising began in 2014.
Bakhmut, about 55 kilometers (34 mi) north of the Russian-held regional capital Donetsk, had a pre-war population of 80,000 and was an important industrial center surrounded by salt and gypsum mines.
The city, named Artyomovsk after a Bolshevik revolutionary when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, was also known for producing sparkling wine in underground caves. Wide tree-lined streets, lush parklands, and a stately downtown of stately late 19th-century mansions (all now a smoldering wasteland) have become a popular tourist destination.
In 2014, when a separatist uprising engulfed eastern Ukraine, weeks after Moscow’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, rebels quickly seized control of the city, but only months later. lost it.
After Russia switched its focus to Donbass after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Kiev early in the February 2022 invasion, Moscow forces attempted to capture Bakhmut in August but were pushed back.
Fighting there subsided in the fall as Russia faced Ukrainian counterattacks in the east and south, but resumed in earnest late last year. In January, the Russians captured the salt-mining town of Soledar, just north of Bakhmut, and closed in on the outskirts of the city.
Heavy Russian artillery fire targeted the city and nearby villages as Moscow launched a three-pronged attack to end resistance in what the Ukrainians called the “Bakhmut Fortress”.
Wagner’s mercenaries spearheaded the Russian attack. Prigozhin sought to use the Battle of the City to expand his influence amid tensions with the Russian military chief, whom he severely criticized.
“We not only fought the Ukrainian army in Bakhmut. We fought the Russian bureaucracy that threw sand into the wheels,” Prigozhin said in a video on Saturday.
Few buildings remained unscathed as houses were savagely fought by the relentless Russian artillery fire. Ukrainian officials said the Wagner fighters “marched over the bodies of their own soldiers”. For decades, both sides have expended ammunition at a pace unmatched in armed conflict, firing thousands of rounds a day.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the capture of the city would allow Russia to launch a further offensive in the Donetsk region, one of four Ukrainian provinces illegally annexed by Russia in September. said it would.
Zeke Miller reported from Hiroshima, Japan.
Follow AP’s war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
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https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-zelenskyy-says-bakhmut-is-only-in-our-hearts-after-russia-claims-control-of-ukrainian-city/ After Russia Claims Control of Ukrainian City, President Zelensky Says ‘Bahmut Is Only in Our Hearts’ | Russia Claims Control of Ukraine City Wagon Radio 720