Russia Denies Claims of Ukrainian ‘Breakthrough’ in Bakhmut

Russia late Thursday denied claims by pro-Moscow bloggers and the head of the Wagner mercenary group that Ukrainian troops had made a breakthrough in the flashpoint city of Bakhmut.

A senior Ukrainian military official said earlier this week that Russian forces had dropped back from some areas near Bakhmut after limited counter-attacks by Kyiv’s forces around the eastern city.

The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose forces are on the front line of the battle for Bakhmut, has acknowledged for three days that some Ukrainian units were successfully breaking through in some areas.

“The individual declarations on Telegram about a ‘breakthrough’ on several points on the front line do not correspond to reality,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

Bakhmut, which once had a population of around 70,000 people, has been destroyed as Russian forces have posted incremental gains over recent months, amounting to some 80 percent of the city.

Russia’s defense ministry said it has repulsed several Ukrainian attacks in the course of the day, adding that the ongoing battle on Thursday evening occurred near Malynivka in the eastern Donetsk region and involved both air power and artillery.

It did not comment on reports over alleged withdrawals by Russian troops near Bakhmut but said its forces were “continuing to liberate the western parts” of the city.

“The general situation in the special military operation zone is under control,” it added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said it needs more time before beginning a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces.

“Mentally, we’re ready…” Zelensky told the BBC. “In terms of equipment, not everything has arrived yet.

“With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” he was quoted as saying.

Ukrainian soldiers
Two Ukrainian soldiers seen guarding the city of Bakhmut from Russian invaders. Photo: AFP

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