a year ago

Zelensky indicates Russia has control of Bakhmut

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to have confirmed that Russia has won the long-running and bloody battle for the city of Bakhmut.

Asked on Sunday whether Ukraine had control of the eastern Ukrainian city, Mr Zelensky said: "I think not."

The city had been destroyed, he said. The leader of the Wagner Russian paramilitary group said in a video on Saturday that his forces had captured the city - a claim Ukrainian officials initially denied.

Analysts say that Bakhmut is of little strategic value to Moscow, but its capture is a symbolic victory for Russia after the longest battle of the Ukraine war so far.

Western officials estimate between 20,000 and 30,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in Bakhmut, while Ukraine's military has also paid a heavy price.

Mr Zelensky was asked about Bakhmut at the meeting of G7 nations in Hiroshima, where he has joined key negotiations.

"You have to understand there is nothing" there, he said, according to the AFP news agency.

"For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts."

Hardly a building remains standing in the city, and nearly its entire population has fled.

Mr Zelensky has previously called the city "a fortress" of Ukrainian morale.

Ukraine's hope is that the long-running battle has exhausted Russia's army and supplies.


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