Commenting on the situation in Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said while joining G7 leaders in Japan: “There is nothing left in this place…just rubble and many Russian dead.” He compared the destruction in the city to that caused by the United States’ atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
The eight-month battles in and around Bakhmut were the longest, and perhaps the bloodiest, of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Both the Ukrainian and Russian sides have suffered tens of thousands of dead and injured, but no party has revealed its true size. Bakhmut was an important industrial center, but its tree-lined streets, green gardens, and 19th-century buildings have turned into ruins.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Russian Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, stressed that his fighters control “every inch” of the city of Bakhmut, and he indicated on Saturday that his group would withdraw its fighters from the city as of May 25, and hand over the defense mission to the Russian army.
And if control of Bakhmut is confirmed, Moscow will be able to declare victory after a series of military setbacks, before a Ukrainian counterattack that Kiev has been preparing for months.
Moscow and Kiev took heavy losses at Bakhmut, a city that had a population of about 80,000 before the Russian attack and was largely devastated by the fighting. Euromedan Press published on its Twitter page scenes of the extent of the destruction there.
And the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior reported on Sunday that it had evacuated ten civilians from Bakhmut, including a girl, while the number of residents remaining in the stricken city is unknown, but it is likely very low.