by TYLER DURDEN at www.zerohedge.com
Wagner Group is heavily involved in fighting to capture the eastern city of Bakhmut, and its head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has said at this point the strategic city on Donetsk Oblast is “practically surrounded”.
Prigozhin issued a video message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday. Donned in military fatigues, he urged for the order be given for Ukrainian forces to retreat in order to save soldiers’ lives. “Units of the private military company Wagner have practically surrounded Bakhmut. Only one route (out) is left,” he said. “The pincers are closing.”
Wagner has further claimed that the Ukrainians have destroyed the majority of bridges leading in and out of the city center.
Commenting on the aforementioned video by Wagner’s leader, Reuters describes another scene as follows:
The camera panned to show three captured Ukrainians – a grey-bearded older man and two boys – asking to be allowed to go home. From visible buildings, Reuters determined the footage was filmed in Paraskoviivka, a village 7 km (4.3 miles) north of the centre of Bakhmut.
As we reported earlier this week, Zelensky and his top aides have lately issued statements appearing to pave the way for a ‘strategic withdrawal’ – or in reality a retreat – as better-armed and numerically superior Russian forces have the city almost completely encircled.
Russian firepower has also been relentless and reportedly greater in supply with Volodymyr Nazarenko, a deputy commander in the National Guard of Ukraine, telling a public radio station in a fresh statement that fighting has been occurring “round the clock”.
“They take no account of their losses in trying to take the city by assault. The task of our forces in Bakhmut is to inflict as many losses on the enemy as possible. Every meter of Ukrainian land costs hundreds of lives to the enemy,” he said.
Kiev has used the devastating scenes out of Bakhmut to press its Western backers for more artillery shells and heavier weaponry immediately. “We need as much ammunition as possible. There are many more Russians here than we have ammunition to destroy them,” Nazarenko said.
In a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters the US is still seeing “intense fighting near Bakhmut.”
Russian forces and Wagner [Group] mercenaries continue to press their attacks around Bakhmut, and Ukrainian forces continue to hold the line,” Ryder said. “It remains a very fluid situation.”
But again, all signs are pointing to a likely retreat already being in progress. The below unverified footage was first published on Thursday…