After 10 months of fighting that has been described as a “meat grinder,” where several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and draftees were being killed per day, the city of Bakhmut seems to have completely fallen.
Propaganda surrounding losses and gains on both the Ukrainian and Russian media channels throughout the war has been constant, and knowing exactly the state of each nation’s military has been difficult since day 1.
The story broke when Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin posted an audio message on his Telegram channel on May 20th announcing the victory, coupled with a statement from the Kremlin congratulating Prigozhin and the Russian regular armed forces for the victory.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy seemed to indicate during a recent meeting of the G7 in Japan that the city had fallen, but the administration later walked those comments back. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar claimed there were still Ukrainian forces in the city, but that the situation was “critical”. The newspaper Kyiv Independent, ran a headline “Russia takes Bakhmut…”
The Independent also claims that Defense Ministry staff admitted that their forces were pushed out of their last high-rise apartment position.
In the afternoon of May 22nd, two days after the supposed conquest of the city, Kyiv Independent reported that Maliar also claimed that “Bakhmut’s defense forces are fulfilling their military tasks,” claiming them to be degrading the Russian offensive capabilities and to inflict huge losses. However, the paper also details in their review of the conflict that much of the bloodiest fighting was done with Wagner Group mercenaries made up of convicts from the Russian prison system, in other words “their [Russia’s] worst”.