The city of Bakhmut is almost destroyed.
The Ukrainian President, after Russia claimed complete control of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast, said “Bakhmut is only in our hearts”, recognising that the city is now in ruins.”
Zelensky’s words were: “They destroyed everything,” “For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts,” “There is nothing in this place.”
The Wagner leader, Prigozhin, after saying on a video that Wagner fighters would search the captured city before handing it over to the Russian army, further said: “We ourselves will go into field camps.” Fighting was audible in the background as he spoke, indicating that Ukrainian troops were still resisting.
The Russian ministry, using the city’s Soviet-era name for Bakhmut, said, “In the Artyomovsk tactical direction, the assault teams of the Wagner private military company with the support of artillery and aviation of the southern battlegroup has completed the liberation of the city of Artyomovsk.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, is quoted as saying: “congratulations to the Wagner assault detachments, as well as all servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces units, who provided them with the necessary support and flank protection, on the completion of the operation to liberate Artyomovsk.”
This “liberation” of Bakhmut took the Russians eight-months to drive almost all Ukrainians out of the city, and destroy most of the buildings there.
It is Russia’s first major victory in more than 10 months.
Bakhmut had a pre-war population of about 70,000 people, but it is thought that fewer than 4,000 are left after the Russian invasion, or liberation in the Russian language. Those remaining, unable or unwilling to leave their home town, are living in shelters without access to gas, electricity or water.
The population had been reported in early December 2022, to be between only 7,000 and 15,000.
The Polish government has stated that more than 11 million Ukrainian refugees – around 87% of them women and children – fled to Poland since Russia invaded in February 2022
Oleksandr Marchenko, the deputy mayor of Bakhmut stated that “not a single building had remained untouched and that the city is almost destroyed“.
Bakhmut faced an earlier battle in 2014, after the earlier invasion of Ukraine in February 2014.
This lasted almost 3 months between April to July in 2014, and resulted in a Ukrainian victory.
In 5 July 2014, the city was returned to Ukrainian control after the Russian mercenaries, with the pro-Russian militants, retreated from the city.
This photo of Bakhmut was after the Russian announced they had taken Bakhmut at the beginning of April, 6 weeks before this latest claim.
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