Wagner chief declares Artyomovsk ‘formally captured’
The head of Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner, Evgeny Prigozhin, has announced a milestone achievement in the battle for the city of Artyomovsk (known in Ukraine as Bakhmut), publishing a video allegedly taken in front of the town’s administrative building on Sunday evening.
“We hoisted the Russian flag with the inscription ‘Good memory to Vladlen Tatarsky’ and the flag of PMC Wagner on top of the city administration of Bakhmut,” Prigozhin said in the clip.
Prigozhin’s announcement comes just hours after prominent Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky (real name Maksim Fomin) was killed in an apparent improvised explosive device blast in a café in St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon.
“Legally speaking, Bakhmut is taken. The enemy is concentrated in the western districts,” the head of the PMC added.
The battle for Artyomovsk has emerged as one of the most intense and bloody engagements of the armed conflict in Ukraine, with both sides reportedly suffering significant casualties. Western officials have claimed that the city poses no strategic military value, but Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky pledged to defend it as long as possible after proclaiming the city a fortress.
Kiev’s attempts to hold on to Bakhmut, regardless of the losses, has “almost destroyed the Ukrainian army,” Prigozhin claimed earlier this week. However, Wagner fighters, who led the charge to capture the Donetsk People’s Republic city, also took “a serious beating,” he acknowledged.