The head of Russia’s Wagner Group has acknowledged that fighting in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has inflicted severe losses on his mercenary forces.
“The battle for Bakhmut today has already practically destroyed the Ukrainian army, and unfortunately, it has also badly damaged the Wagner Private Military Company,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an audio message.
He also claimed that if Wagner were able to achieve victory in Bakhmut it would be a “major turning point in the war and in the entire modern history”.
If Wagner were to “perish in the meatgrinder of Bakhmut and take the Ukrainian army with it” it would give Russia space for a further offensive, he added. “That means we played our historic mission.”
Russian officials say their forces are still capturing ground in street-by-street fighting inside Bakhmut, but have so far failed to encircle it and force the Ukrainians to withdraw, as had seemed likely weeks ago.
British military intelligence said on Wednesday the Ukrainians had successfully pushed the Russians back from one of the city’s main supply routes.
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